NASA has revealed that it conducted a simulated asteroid exercise last month.
The US space agency on Thursday said that it designed a simulation to assess the impact of an asteroid smashing into Earth, per a new report.
Nasa conducted the simulation at the fourth Planetary Defense Interagency Tabletop Exercise, where it was joined by FEMA, the United States Space Command, and other federal, state, and local agencies.
FEMA (or the Federal Emergency Management Agency) was also a sponsor of the simulated experiment that was hosted by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.
The simulated exercise spanned over the course of two days and wanted to gauge the United States’ ability to respond effectively to an asteroid threat, according to the report.
It also heavily focused on whether federal and state governments’ could coordinate efficiently across federal, state, and local government levels.
The hypothetical scenario consisted of several U.S. government agency officials discovering a simulated asteroid designated 2022 TTX.
Assigned a probability of impacting Earth in six months’ time, 2022 TTX was also large enough to cause substantial damage in the North Carolina region.
Upon gathering this information, exercise participants then had to navigate the situation through a series of modules that tested mitigation and communication skills in the event of an emergency.
“FEMA is an ‘all-hazards’ agency and responds to all domestic disasters and emergencies, so when it became evident this simulated asteroid would impact somewhere within the United States, it required this level of interagency coordination,” said Leviticus Lewis, FEMA Detailee to Planetary Defense Coordination Office at NASA Headquarters.
“This fourth interagency asteroid impact tabletop exercise provided a forum for federal and local government officials to work through what an impending asteroid impact threat to the United States would look like, with the real people that would be needed for such discussions given this type of impact scenario,” he added.
While NASA has conducted simulated asteroid impact scenarios in the past, this specific exercise was the first time it was studied from end-to-end, according to Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA Headquarters.
Johnson added that an asteroid impact on our planet is one of few natural disasters science is capable of accurately predicting and potentially preventing.
“Conducting exercises of this nature enable government stakeholders to identify and resolve potential issues before real-world actions to respond to an actual asteroid impact threat would ever be needed,” Johnson said.
Much to everyone’s relief, NASA also reassured America that there are no predicted asteroid impact threats to our planet for the foreseeable future.