How would the world react to the threat of an asteroid impact?
This is the topic of a three-day workshop on Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and the dangers they present, that will be held in Darmstadt, Germany next week.
An ESA statement says The high-level Mission Planning and Operations Group (MPOG) workshop is the latest in a series organised to report to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and includes representatives from major space agencies, NASA astronauts, the Secure World Foundation and the Association of Space Explorers.
"The workshop series is focusing on plans and recommendations for global coordination and response in the event that an asteroid or other object is found to pose an impact threat to Earth," says workshop coordinator Detlef Koschny from ESA.
Plausible asteroid impact and timing scenarios
Participants will review the latest information and findings from asteroid and NEO research worldwide, and receive briefings on activities of the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee and ESA's Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme. They will also consider two theoretical but plausible impact scenarios and analyse them in detail in order to identify the best strategy for global response.
In addition to senior managers from ESA, NASA, the Russian space agency Roscosmos and numerous national space agencies, participants will include prominent researchers in the field such as Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9 astronaut and Head of ESA's Committee on NEOs), Thomas Jones, (NASA astronaut on four Space Shuttle flights and a long-time asteroid impact researcher), Brian Weeden (Technical Advisor at the Secure Word Foundation) and Sergio Camacho, (former Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs and now Secretary General of the Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the Caribbean).
The workshop's finding will later be merged with findings of other experts to create a final report to the UN committee. Such a report will recommend how to react to an impact threat.
Under ESA's Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme, Europe is acquiring the capability to watch for objects and natural phenomena that could harm satellites in orbit or facilities on the ground.
A media briefing after the workshop will be webcast on 29 October, 13:00-14:30 CEST (GMT+2). The video stream will be available at http://www.esa.int/ssa