The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) last week took the wrapping off its new national preparedness strategy to protect against near-earth objects (NEOs) and other space-based hazards to the globe.
The new strategy – titled National Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan for Near-Earth Object Hazards and Planetary Defense – was released on April 3 and makes comprehensive changes to the previous version of the strategy issued in 2018.
“The 2023 Planetary Defense Strategy builds on existing efforts by Federal Departments and Agencies to address the hazard of NEO impacts, includes evaluation of where progress has been made – and focuses future work on planetary defense across the U.S. government,” said OSTP.
The new plan, created in collaboration with NASA, addresses some of the concerns posed by objects nearing earth from the far reaches of space.
“NASA will lead the development of a roadmap for improving national capabilities for NEO detection, tracking, and characterization,” said OSTP in describing steps springing from the new strategy.
“This hazard exists because our planet orbits the Sun amidst millions of smaller objects that cross Earth’s orbit, including asteroids and comets. Even a rare interstellar asteroid or comet from outside our Solar System can enter Earth’s neighborhood,” OSTP said.
The latest strategy features six new goals:
- Enhance NEO detection, tracking, and characterization capabilities;
- Improve NEO modeling, prediction, and information integration;
- Develop technologies for NEO reconnaissance, deflection, and disruption missions;
- Increase international cooperation on NEO preparedness;
- Strengthen and routinely exercise NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols; and
- Improve U.S. management of planetary defense through enhanced interagency collaboration.
The strategy outlines a 10-year horizon with short- and long-term objectives that incorporates the use of space technology and data to locate and monitor NEO objects.
“The U.S. Government views planetary defense as a mission that will involve many elements of Federal, State, local government, industry, academia, and society as a whole,” OSTP said.