Developing an international early asteroid warning system is an absolute necessity, the conclusions of a new report indicate. The document shows that the consequences of a potential impact would not be limited by national borders and political disagreements.
The only way to defend ourselves against such threat is to create a series of telescopes dedicated specifically to scanning the night sky for potentially hazardous space rocks or comets that may be heading our way.
According to the same report, the general public also needs to be educated more about the threats posed by near-Earth objects (NEO). Nearly 8,900 such space rocks have been found around Earth and, while none of them is dangerous to us, thousands more definitely lurk in the recesses of space.
In order for such an early-warning system to be created, nations will have to develop a series of internationally recognized guidelines on the issue, a process that will not be completed easily.
The nonprofit Secure World Foundation, which edited the document, says that this task is very complex simply because no agreement of this sort has ever been discussed or signed before, Space
These topics were discussed at a meeting organized by the Foundation and the Association of Space Explorers last November, where participants talked about methods of helping a UN-designated team set up an Information, Analysis and Warning Network (IAWN) for NEO.
Astronomers correctly point out that there is no reason to suspect that huge asteroid strikes will stop now, after they've continuously battered the planet for more than 4 billion years. In some instances, the cataclysms produced mass extinction events that nearly wiped out all life on Earth.
“Today no worldwide disaster-notification protocol of any kind exists. The closest analogy might be the cooperative early-warning system developed for tsunamis in the wake of the devastating inundation of the coasts of Southeast Asia in 2004,” the SWF report shows.
The document will be detailed this week at a conference held in Vienna, Austria, in front of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Its main conclusion is that all NEO-related research and monitoring efforts need to be centralized and expanded.
“The IAWN has an essential role in a global response to the NEO hazard. Essentially, it would comprise the functions and activities already being carried out by the Minor Planet Center, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) NEO Program Office, and Europe’s Near Earth Object Dynamic Site (NEODyS) program,” the report concludes.