Asteroids have pounded Earth in the past and will continue to do so in the future. If a big one lines the planet up in its crosshairs, civilization itself could be imperiled.
Now, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has taken a step toward combating the asteroid threat. A special U.N. action team on near-Earth objects (NEOs) has recommended the creation of an International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), which is designed to gather and analyze NEO data and provide timely warnings to national authorities if a potentially hazardous NEO were to threaten Earth.
A number of components of an IAWN already exist and are working together. Now, the objective is to pool together the expertise of the world’s many relevant scientific organizations, to discover and track objects and generate early warnings of potential impacts. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)]
Secondly, a Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) has been meeting to plan for the possibility of a future asteroid impact. The group includes representatives of spacefaring nations and other pertinent organizations.