White House updates plan to counter killer asteroids

Asteroid deflection test
NASA is planning missions to study how to divert a threatening asteroid, including an experiment known as DART, or Double Asteroid Redirection Test. (NASA Illustration)

The White House has issued an updated plan that lays out the roles played by NASA and other federal agencies in anticipating threats from near-Earth objects — and makes clear that if a threat arises, America will address it alone if need be to protect its national interests.

The latest edition of the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan lists steps to be taken over the next 10 years to heighten U.S. capabilities to respond to potentially threatening asteroids and comets.

For now, the top priority is to detect and keep track of near-Earth objects, or NEOs, with NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observation Program playing the lead role.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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