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NASA formalised Planetary Defense Coordination Office to detect and track Near-Earth Objects

It will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near the orbit of the Earth around the sun.

Jan 21, 2016 10:08 IST
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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 7 January 2016 announced that it had formalized its ongoing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).

It will remain within NASA's Planetary Science Division under Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Main functions of PDCO

• It will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near the orbit of the Earth around the sun.

• It will take a lead role in coordinating interagency and intergovernmental efforts in response to any potential hazards that impact Earth.

• It will also issue notices of close passes and warnings of any detected potential threats, based on credible science data.

• It will continue to assist to coordinate Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other U.S. agencies and international counterparts to participate in the precautionary actions against an actual impact hazard.

NASA started discovering the NEOs in 1998 and since then 13500 NEOs were discovered with 1500 new addition every year. It was engaged in worldwide planning for planetary defense for some time.

If the joint NASA-European Space Agency Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission concept continued, then it would demonstrate an impact deflection method of planetary defence.

EU-sponsored NEOShield

Other countries also are engaged in programs to deflect asteroid or comets that could hit the Earth. For instance, European Union (EU) sponsored NEOShield programme wherein Russian scientists have been contracted to develop methods to use nuclear weapons to deflect or destroy asteroids or comets that have the potential to hit the Earth and wipe out life from the planet.

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