White House Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan

Dark galaxy space with star constellationsThe White House has released a report prepared by the Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-bound Near-Earth Objects (DAMIEN) Interagency Working Group (IWG) of the Committee on Homeland and National Security, established in 2016 by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The IWG’s primary goal is to develop a National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan that would “improve our Nation’s preparedness to address the hazard of near-Earth object (NEO) impacts over the next 10 years.”

By leveraging and enhancing the existing assets and capabilities of various public and private agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Department of Energy (DOE), the plan provides five essential goals. Each goal is supported by specific strategic objectives and relevant actions that “underpin the effort to enhance the Nation’s preparedness for potential NEO impacts.” Specifically, these include:

  1. Enhance NEO  Detection,  Tracking,  and  Characterization  Capabilities:  NASA  will  lead  the development  of  a  roadmap  for  improving  national  capabilities  for  NEO  detection,  tracking,  and characterization.
  2. Improve NEO Modeling, Prediction, and Information Integration: Agencies will coordinate the development of validated modeling tools and simulation capabilities […].
  3. Develop Technologies for NEO Deflection and Disruption Missions: NASA will lead development of technologies for fast-response NEO reconnaissance missions and timely missions to deflect or disrupt hazardous NEOs. 
  4. Increase International Cooperation on NEO Preparation: Agencies will work to inform and develop international support for addressing global NEO impact risks. 
  5. Strengthen and Routinely Exercise NEO Impact Emergency Procedures and Action Protocols: The United States will strengthen and exercise procedures and protocols for assessing NEO threats, communication regarding threats, and response and recovery activities.
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