The exercise was part of the “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan” published by the White House. The experiment, called the IAA Planetary Defense Conference, ran over five days. It described and simulated how a 60-metre (200-foot) asteroid called 2019 PD Centered Earth’s atmosphere at a shocking speed of 19 kilometres per second (43,000 mph) and impacted over New York’s Central Park, an event possible after a decade. In the hypothetical scenario, by 2021 NASA had sent out a reconnaissance mission to find out more about the asteroid’s size, orbit, and composition. Then, in 2024, three probes were sent to crash into the space rock to hopefully push the asteroid away. However, a 50-80 metre fragment broke off and was still on track to collide with Earth.
Big asteroid impacvt (an artist vision)
So, people were evacuated. A such impact would flatten a 15-kilometer radius, completely destroying Manhattan, with damage extending as far as 68 kilometres from the collision point. These scenarios create endless questions, such as how long we would need to evacuate that many people, where they would go, and how we would protect things like nuclear facilities. “This exercise is valuable in that it continues the work currently in progress to identify key questions and issues for this low probability but high consequence scenario,” said Leviticus Lewis of the Response Operations Division said in a statement. No known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact with Earth over the next 100 years, according to NASA.