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Asteroid Alert: What Happens When NASA Finds Killer Asteroid Heading To Earth?

First Posted: Dec 05, 2016 02:57 AM EST
Asteroid
NASA and FEMA already know what to do in case an asteroid is seen heading toward Earth.
(Photo : NASA/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

Say what you will about the overuse of cell phones and gadgets. It turns out that if NASA does detect a killer asteroid on its way to Earth, the first people to know about it are scientists who will be getting warnings via text message.

According to Mashable, the first people who will know about a killer asteroid would be a group of less than 12 scientists who will get a message via a form of text or e-mail on the information regarding the said asteroid, including preliminary information. However, at that point, there is little to know: size and trajectory of the space rock may be included, but it will definitely be subject to change, so they will have to gather observations in order to be able to get to work.

The odds of an asteroid hitting Earth is remarkably low. In fact, a 5,000 foot asteroid is expected to hit our planet only once every 1 million years. But NASA already has a plan of action in case a space rock finds its way toward the planet. And the space agency does have that. Today, in conjunction with FEMA, the agency was able to stage a run-through of what it should do in case of these dangers:

On a NASA news last month, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said, "It is critical to exercise these kinds of low-probability but high-consequence disaster scenarios. By working through our emergency response plans now, we will be better prepared if and when we need to respond to such an event."

Follow-up observations will be necessary to check the size of the asteroid, and amateur astronomers and those with large telescopes can use their own tools to gather more data about the possible object. Once the asteroid looks like it might actually hit the planet Earth, NASA will notify the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and then issue a press release to inform the public.

To date, scientists have already mapped out oribits of about 90 percent of near-Earth objects a kilometer in size or larger. NASA is even looking for ways to deflect an asteroid in case it comes dangerously close. However, at this point, people will just have to keep looking out into the sky and hope that nothing large and rocky comes our way.

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