United Nations to lead efforts to defend Earth from asteroids
Date published: 30th October 2013
The plans were set out in a series of recommendations endorsed at a meeting of the UN’s Fourth Committee of the General Assembly.
They have yet to be adopted as a resolution by the full General Assembly but are expected to be fully implemented and will require member nations to cooperate to protect the Earth from asteroid collisions.
Missions to deflect an asteroid are likely to be launched years in advance of a potential impact to gently push any threats off course.
Experts believe missions that use rockets, solar sails or gravity tractors to change an asteroid's orbit as the most likely solutions.
Missions that attempt to destroy an asteroid, such as those used in the film Armageddon and Deep Impact, are less likely due to the risk posed by the resultant debris.
The UN meeting comes eight months after a 55 feet wide meteor exploded high in the sky above Chelyabinsk, Russia, creating widespread damage.
The meteor, which had not been previously detected, exploded with the force of more than 30 Hiroshima nuclear bombs high in the atmosphere.
Astronomers estimate that there are more than one million asteroids that are in a near Earth orbit around the sun.
There are currently just 10,000 asteroids being tracked by Nasa’s Near Earth Object Program.
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