Soon, a global warning network to deal with asteroid threats to Earth

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Washington, January 30 (ANI): Reports indicate that a group of international experts has outlined steps to establish a global detection and warning network to deal with possible asteroid threats to Earth.

The steps to tackle asteroids were decided at a workshop held from anuary 18-20 in Mexico City.

Meeting participants worked through a series of scenarios - hypothetical situations designed to highlight the challenges and problems that a future Information Analysis and Warning Network (IAWN) providing global warning and technical analysis would encounter in dealing with an Earth-threatening asteroid.

"For the first time an international group of experts, many who would be the ones doing the actual analysis of an asteroid impact threat, came together to work through the challenges which will be faced by the international community in deciding how to respond to such an event," said Apollo astronaut, Russell Schweickart, former chair of the ASE-NEO Committee.

"The participants grappled with scenarios ranging from a small impact, where evacuation of the impact zone is the most likely response, up to a large asteroid, where only an immediate decision to initiate a deflection campaign would prevent the disaster," Schweickart said.

"The recommendations from this exercise will be integrated into the work of UN COPUOS where the nations of the world are discussing how to prevent these devastating, though infrequent, events," he added.

"This workshop provided a major step forward in our thinking about the needed components of an information, analysis, and warning network for asteroids. The workshop findings should go a long way toward providing the basis for such a network," said Dr. Ray A. Williamson, Executive Director of Secure World Foundation.

According to Tom Jones, former NASA shuttle astronaut and current Chair of the ASE Committee on Near-Earth Objects, "The discussions in Mexico City advanced our understanding of how the global community can better communicate detection and warning information about near-Earth objects (NEOs)."

"The information-sharing effort is an essential first step in dealing with the global hazard posed by asteroids and comets," he said.

"The ASE looks forward to spreading the results of the recent workshop and urges future work within the U.N. and by the world's space agencies to develop the capacity to deflect a NEO headed for Earth, a fundamental mission for our space technology," he added. (ANI)

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