Asteroid warning: THIS is the protocol NASA will follow in event of impending collision

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While the chances of an asteroid strike are small, a space rock just the size of a mile could be big enough to destroy an entire country. For this reason, the likes of NASA have to be constantly wary about the threat of asteroids and track potentially threatening space rocks.

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If a life ending asteroid were to be detected, NASA’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) would be the first to sound the alarm.

ATLAS stated the protocol on its website: “Our immediate action will be to alert the Minor Planet Center (MPC), which is connected to Harvard University.

“The MPC quickly sends the information to several scientific groups around the world who calculate when and where the impact will take place.

“There are already systems in place between the MPC, NASA, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to report the information to national and international authorities.”

The actions that will be taken are determined by how big the incoming asteroid is, and how much time humanity has before it impacts.

Asteroid warning: THIS is the protocol NASA will follow in event of impending collision

Asteroid warning: THIS is the protocol NASA will follow in event of impending collision (Image: GETTY)

Asteroid warning: THIS is the protocol NASA will follow in event of impending collision

“The bigger the object and the shorter the warning time, the more critical the situation.” (Image: GETTY)

ATLAS said: “The bigger the object and the shorter the warning time, the more critical the situation. Currently, the most likely amount of warning time is between one and a few days.”

Anything larger than 50 metres will be a cause for concern, the space agency said.

ATLAS added: “For an asteroid in the 50 to 300-meters (or yards) diameter on a path to hit Earth, the response will depend on the impact location.

“An object on the high end of this size distribution that impacts land will be a major threat to life and property.

“If it lands in the ocean, the damage resulting from a tsunami may be equally devastating. It is worth noting that these bigger objects that are hundreds of meters (or yards) in diameter will typically be discovered many years or even decades before impact giving us time to develop an effective response, for example asteroid deflection.

READ MORE: NASA asteroid alert: NASA tracks a 33000MPH asteroid approaching Earth

Asteroid warning: THIS is the protocol NASA will follow in event of impending collision

“One thing we don’t want to do is blow it up…” (Image: GETTY)

“One thing we don’t want to do is blow it up…”

The chances of a major asteroid hitting Earth are small – NASA believes there is a one-in-300,000 chance every year that a space rock which could cause regional damage will hit – but the devastating prospect is not impossible.

And when it does hit Earth, it could spell the end of humanity.

Physicist Rob van den Berg wrote on Q&A site Quora: “Small asteroids are of course pretty harmless, they evaporate in the atmosphere before they reach the ground.

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Asteroid warning: THIS is the protocol NASA will follow in event of impending collision

The hunt for asteroids (Image: ESA)

“If they do reach the ground they don’t do all that much damage (compared to what they can do). Sure, it will cost a lot to repair all the windows, but it’s extremely unlikely to actually get hit by one (as far as I know, only two recorded cases of that in all our history).

“The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs had a size of about 10 miles and such impacts only happen every several million years (since this particular one was the last, it has been 65 million years now).

“But no matter how small the chance of it happening in our lifetime, it is pretty much destined that another big one will eventually hit Earth again, some time in the future.”


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