With heightened concern over potential ‘Armageddon’-like asteroids causing a ‘Deep Impact’ on Earth, NASA has created a new office tasked with coordinating detection of potential crashes and “planning for planetary defense.”
Part of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) will supervise all NASA efforts that track near-Earth objects (NEOs), such as asteroids and comets. It will have the authority to issue warnings of NEO approaches and potential impacts. The office will also lead interagency and intergovernmental response efforts in case of any potential impact events.
“Asteroid detection, tracking and defense of our planet is something that NASA, its interagency partners, and the global community take very seriously,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “While there are no known impact threats at this time, the 2013 Chelyabinsk super-fireball and the recent ‘Halloween Asteroid’ close approach remind us of why we need to remain vigilant and keep our eyes to the sky.”