WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) — A small asteroid is expected to miss the earth by a mere 8,000 miles on Monday but the Near Earth Object Observation Program at NASA is always on the lookout for things that could fly into the earth, damaging the planet.
“We exist to find these objects that might pose a danger of collision with earth sometime in the future. Now, our objective is to find them years, if not decades, in advance so that if there is something that is on a hazardous trajectory we have time enough to do something about it,” said Col. Lindley Johnson the program executive for the office.
Imagine an asteroid the size of a mansion breaching the atmosphere above Washington.
“It would pretty much devastate the entire city An object in 1908 , the Tungsuka Event came down and the blast wave took down over 20 thousand square kilometers of forest,” Johnson said.
If objects are found to be on a trajectory that would mean an impact with earth, Johnson says a space mission could be mounted to divert the asteroids or meteors.
“We could send out a mission to deflect its orbit. Either hit it with a kinetic impactor and cause a velocity change. You only have to change the velocity by a few centimeters a second many years in advance and over time that difference builds up so that it would be a miss instead of a hit,” Johnson told 9News Now.