NASA is preparing for a possible “doomsday” by rehearsing what would happen if an asteroid was hurtling to Earth.
The space agency along with other international organizations will play out over five days how those groups would react to a possible apocalypse.
The scenario of a huge asteroid hurtling toward our planet at 31,000 mph is meant to be as realistic as possible and has been devised by a division of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory that has been tasked with studying near-Earth objects (NEOs).
The exercise is to see how fast and effectively the organizations react.
“These exercises have really helped us in the planetary defense community to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know,” Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defense officer, said in a statement.
“This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments.”
The space agency has been scanning the skies for more than 20 years, looking for NEOs.
NEOs are defined as any objects that orbit the sun and come within 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit.
While an asteroid strike may seem like the work of a Hollywood movie, the threat is real.
In February 2013, a meteor blazed across the sky above Chelyabinsk in the southern Ural mountains and was the largest recorded meteor strike since events in Tunguska in 1908.
More than 1,600 people were injured by the shock wave triggered by the explosion, which was equivalent to 20 times the size of the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima.
The “tabletop” exercise begins with the premise that on March 26, astronomers “discovered” an asteroid that could be hazardous to Earth.
In the simulation, NASA claims the asteroid poses a one in 100 chance of impacting the Earth.
The exercise will see how the various organizations would handle the situation and what the best course of action would be.