NASA completed formalities for Planetary Defense Coordination Office launch, with the PDCO announced on Thursday. The organization now follows tasks pertaining to the coordination of efforts to track, list and classify near-Earth-objects (NEO), potential hazards and mitigation strategies.
The Planetary Defense Coordination Office is subordinated to the Planetary Science Division of the U.S. space agency. The PDCO shall overtake supervision of all projects funded by NASA with the scope of finding and classifying all NEOs (asteroids, comets) passing by our planet’s orbit. In addition, the PDCO is responsible for leading intergovernmental efforts and interagency efforts for mitigating any potential hazards posed by the NEOs.
Currently, over 13,500 NEOs have been listed and classified. 95 percent of the near-Earth-objects have been tracked and listed since 1998 when the U.S. space agency formally began surveys. New near-Earth-objects are detected at a rate of 1,500 per year. According to John Grunsfeld who is the associate administrator with the Science Mission Directorate of the U.S. space agency:
“Asteroid detection, tracking and defense of our planet is something that NASA, its interagency partners and the global community take very seriously”.
As everyone should. No impact threats have been released. However, recent close approaches of NEOs had everyone skipping a heartbeat at the possibility of an impact threat. However, it’s been awhile since NASA has been actively engaging in planetary defense planning. This time, NASA completed formalities for Planetary Defense Coordination Office launch.
The PDCO simply brings together planetary defense activities under one roof in a formal manner. The office will continue to collaborate with other federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as other departments.
The Planetary Defense Coordination Office will not only track, list and classify new near-Earth-objects. It will continue monitoring the already listed and classified NEOs. In addition, the office is responsible for issuing timely notices of NEOs close passes as well as warning notices of potential impacts. Formally launching the Planetary Defense Coordination Office has highlighted the role the U.S. space agency plays in planetary defense both at the national and international levels.
Currently, 90 percent of the NEO database is made up of near-Earth-objects with over 3,000 feet measurements. NASA wishes to extend the database with any detectable objects that are larger than 450 feet or just above. In parallel to this task, NASA’s PDCO will now harbor the development of new technology for redirecting potentially threatening NEOs or deflecting them further from the orbit.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia