International Asteroid Warning System Needed to Avert Possible Catastrophe

According to a new report released by the Secure World Foundation (SWF), it is of the utmost importance that the nations of the world come together to develop a warning and communication system that could help alleviate the worst possible effects of a catastrophic asteroid strike.

The report, which will be presented to the UN this week, summarises the findings of a meeting focused on helping a UN team develop a proposed Information, Analysis and Warning Network (IAWN) for near-Earth objects (NEO) held by the Secure World Foundation and the Association of Space Explorers in November 2011.

According to the report, having such a system in place would not only issue international warnings about possible impending strikes, but also educate the public about the threats posed by near-Earth objects. However, it goes on to acknowledge that coming up with international guidelines of this sort would not be easy, but quite necessary. If an NEO should come into view, the SWF believes that the world would need to know and the response that should be taken.

“The IAWN has an essential role in a global response to the NEO hazard,” it states. “Essentially, it would comprise the functions and activities already being carried out by the Minor Planet Center, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) NEO Program Office, and Europe’s Near Earth Object Dynamic Site (NEODyS) program.”

The report stresses that any educational campaign by the IAWN to the public, shouldn’t be all doom and gloom. The SWF believes that it should engage with the public through channels like social media to highlight the scientific importance of NEOs and their potential economic value, rather than the risk involved.

Having such a warning system in place would diminish the catastrophic damage a large asteroid could do when colliding with Earth. Despite the added risk for panic, it seems as though the SWF believe that the channels of communication opened by such a warning system and the capacity to work together that it would bring with it are of the utmost importance.

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