In December 2016, the U.S. Government released its strategy document on preparing for and preventing asteroid impacts in which they outlined which government agencies would be involved in the planning for such an event, and the broad goals to be achieved. At the time, we commented that it was good news that the government was taking the issue of asteroid impacts seriously, but what would really matter is the concrete steps they actually take towards meeting their goals.
Yesterday, the U.S. Government released an implementation plan for carrying out the strategy laid out in 2016. The good news is the report recommends beginning preliminary mission designs towards eventually testing asteroid deflection technologies including both gravity tractors and kinetic impactors. Since our inception, we have recommended the testing of such technologies, ahead of when they might actually be used for real, and we wholeheartedly agree with these initial steps.
Also, we concur with the emphasis on finding and tracking asteroids as a necessary step. The Asteroid Institute, through its Asteroid Decision Analysis and Mapping (ADAM) project, is working on computational tools for interpreting and understanding the flood of new asteroids which will be discovered and tracked in the near future when telescopes like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) come online in the next few years. The Asteroid Institute also agrees with the recommendation that these surveys should be extended down to asteroids as small as approximately 50 meters across. The Asteroid Institute is working on new technologies which could aid in their discovery and tracking.
Thank you for your support.
To our future,
Dr. Ed Lu