Just in case an asteroid is on its way towards Earth, the White House has released its seven-point strategy to prepare for an apocalypse.

The White House released various goals for federal research, development, deployment, operations, coordination and engagement of near-earth objects (NEOs), which includes asteroids or comets with heliocentric orbits that come close to or intersect our planet’s orbit. The objects can range in size, from only a few meters to several kilometers wide.

The White House also released a graph that shows the current known near-Earth asteroid (NEA) population, the latest estimate of total NEAs and the estimated damage from an asteroid impact.

Figure 1: NEAs of various sizes: number detected to date and estimated total number. Figure 1: NEAs of various sizes: number detected to date and estimated total number. Photo: White House

Officials say it’s “highly unlikely” that our planet will be struck by an asteroid any time soon, however it's not a bad idea to be prepared for an apocalyptic event.

The document states :

“While it is highly unlikely that there will be a civilization-ending NEO impact over the next two centuries, the risk of smaller but still catastrophic NEO impacts is real, and there is currently no whole-of-government or international strategy to respond to such an event throughout all phases of a NEO impact scenario timeline.”

This is the timeline of stages of strategies of NEO preparedness:

White House asteroid plan Figure 2: Illustrative timeline of the phases of operations in a NEO preparedness strategy. Photo: White House

White House Strategic Goals

The White House’ seven strategy goals were developed to prepare the country for various dangerous scenarios. The Interagency Working Group for Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-bound Near-Earth Objects (DAMIEN) worked on the document. The plan builds on NASA’s efforts to better detect and characterize the NEO population, and recent Department of Homeland Security goals to prepare for and respond to an asteroid impact.

“This Strategy defines seven strategic goals to prepare the Nation for a variety of NEO impact scenarios,” the document states. “These goals aim to improve the Nation’s warning of, options for preventing, planning for, recovery from, and international collaboration responding to, NEO impacts. These strategic goals address the entire range of possible NEO impact scenarios, from decades of warning to no warning at all.”

These are the seven strategic goals:

1. Enhance NEO Detection, Tracking, and Characterization Capabilities

2. Develop Methods for NEO Deflection and Disruption

3. Improve Modeling, Predictions, and Information Integration

4. Develop Emergency Procedures for NEO Impact Scenarios

5. Establish NEO Impact Response and Recovery Procedures

6. Leverage and Support International Cooperation

7. Establish Coordination and Communications Protocols and Thresholds for Taking Action