Scientists are trying to find ways, to defend if we discovered a large asteroid on course to impact Earth.

In NASA-FEMA tabletop exercise in El Segundo, California, scientists discussed what would we do if a hypothetical asteroid predicted to impact Earth.

Above, image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The average of 30 new asteroids added each week, on top of the 15,000 near-Earth asteroids already discovered.

It’s not a matter of if, but when…

The third in a series of exercises hosted jointly by NASA and FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency — the simulation was designed to strengthen the collaboration between the two agencies, which have Administration direction to lead the U.S. response. “It’s not a matter of if — but when — we will deal with such a situation,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “But unlike any other time in our history, we now have the ability to respond to an impact threat through continued observations, predictions, response planning and mitigation.”

The exercise provided a forum for the planetary science community to show how it would collect, analyze and share data about a hypothetical asteroid predicted to impact Earth. Emergency managers discussed how that data would be used to consider some of the unique challenges an asteroid impact would present-for preparedness, response and public warning.

“It is critical to exercise these kinds of low-probability but high-consequence disaster scenarios,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said. “By working through our emergency response plans now, we will be better prepared if and when we need to respond to such an event.”

Large Asteroid Impact Simulation:

source JPL