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Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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US Reveals Defense Plan to Deal with Dangers from Near Earth Objects

Preparing for Doomsday

(Photo : The White House) Near Earth Asteroids of various sizes, number detected to date and estimated total number.

The White House has released documents outlining the United States' plan to better cope with the dangers posed by the thousands of "Near Earth Objects" (NEOs) in orbit around the Earth, some of which are capable of triggering extinction level events that will end life on this planet.

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The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy (Strategy) and the forthcoming National Near Earth Object Preparedness Action Plan (Action Plan) together seek to improve the U.S.' preparedness to address the hazard of NEO impacts by enhancing the integration of existing national and international assets and adding important capabilities currently lacking.

The Strategy and Action Plan build on efforts of NASA to better detect and characterize the NEO population, and recent efforts at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prepare for and respond to a NEO impact.

Together, they aim to foster a collaborative effort in which the U.S. can better understand, prevent and prepare for the effects of a NEO impact.

NEOs are asteroids or comets with heliocentric orbits that come near or intersect Earth's orbit. They range in size from small "meteoroids" of only a few meters in size to much larger bodies several kilometers wide.

The U.S. must continue to leverage existing networks of expertise and capabilities, both public and private, and pursue targeted enhancements to improve the ability to manage the risks associated with NEOs.

The White House said potential NEO impacts pose a significant and complex challenge. The strategy it proposes is a step in addressing the myriad challenges of managing and reducing the risks posed by both large and small NEOs.

The seven high-level goals and associated objectives outlined in the strategy support a collaborative and federally-coordinated approach to developing effective policies, practices, and procedures for decreasing the U.S.' vulnerabilities associated with the NEO impact hazard.

The seven strategic goals underpin the effort to enhance America's preparedness to NEO impacts are:

1. Enhance NEO Detection, Tracking, and Characterization Capabilities

2. Develop Methods for NEO Deflection and Disruption

3. Improve Modeling, Predictions, and Information Integration

4. Develop Emergency Procedures for NEO Impact Scenarios

5. Establish NEO Impact Response and Recovery Procedures

6. Leverage and Support International Cooperation

7. Establish Coordination and Communications Protocols and Thresholds for Taking Action

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