NASA’s administrator expressed concern that similar warnings have historically prompted amusement and said that asteroid collisions were more common than people believed.
In the planetary defence exercises this week, simulating a global response to an Earth-destroying meteorite, NASA’s first step will be to precisely measure the object’s speed and trajectory.
After that, a decision will have to be made: attempt to prevent the collision by deflecting the asteroid, or evacuate the area it could crash into.
Planetary defence and astronomical experts have warned against humanity destroying large asteroids with nuclear weapons out of the concern that they would simply shatter into smaller dangerous pieces.
The most likely response is to evacuate the area which the asteroid is expected to collide into, especially if the asteroid is smaller than 50m (164ft) across.