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Europe is preparing for an asteroid strike

on 22 December 2014

Last month, experts from ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme and Europe’s national disaster response organisations met for a two-day exercise on what to do if an asteroid is ever found to be heading Earth.

This was ESA’s first-ever asteroid impact exercise, during which the participants went through a countdown to an impact, practising steps to be taken if near-Earth objects, or NEOs, of various sizes were detected.

The exercise considered the threat from an imaginary, but plausible, asteroid, initially thought to range in size from 12 m to 38 m – spanning roughly the range between the 2013 Chelyabinsk airburst and the 1908 Tunguska event – and travelling at 12.5 km/s.

Teams rehearsed how to react if a threatening space rock is ever discovered to be on a collision course with Earth at five critical points in time, focused on 30, 26, 5 and 3 days before and 1 hour after impact.

“There are a large number of variables to consider in predicting the effects and damage from any asteroid impact, making simulations such as these very complex”, said Detlef Koschny, Head of NEO activities in the SSA office.

Details here.