By Matthew Daniels, OSTP Assistant Director for Space Security & Special Projects
Ainikki Riikonen, OSTP Policy Analyst
Planetary defense entered a new era last year when NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission demonstrated for the first time the ability to alter an asteroid’s orbit. The successful mission was achieved with the support of a worldwide observation campaign, and growing global interest in hazardous near-Earth objects (NEOs) – asteroids and comets that could come into Earth’s neighborhood. Despite these breakthroughs and growing awareness, less than half of NEOs capable of serious damage on Earth have been catalogued.
That’s why the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is releasing the National Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan for Near-Earth Object Hazards and Planetary Defense. It establishes six key goals for the decade ahead:
- Enhance NEO detection, tracking, and characterization capabilities.
- Improve NEO modeling, prediction, and information integration.
- Develop technologies for NEO reconnaissance, deflection, and disruption missions.
- Increase international cooperation on NEO preparedness.
- Strengthen and routinely exercise NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols.
- Improve U.S. management of planetary defense through enhanced interagency collaboration.
This strategy advances the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitments to U.S. leadership and international cooperation in space, and builds on existing efforts by federal departments and agencies. By working toward these goals, our nation will be able to more effectively detect, prepare for, and thwart NEO hazards.