The asteroid is in a horrible orbit and has a 1% chance of striking Earth in just eight years. And — thank goodness — it doesn’t really exist.
It’s a fictitious asteroid that’s the focus of a realistic exercise devised for scientists and engineers from around the world who are attending the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference being held this week outside Washington, D.C.
A real asteroid of this size, should it ever hit the planet, could wipe out an entire city.
“This is a threat that could happen, even though it’s extremely unlikely,” says Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who created this realistic simulation. “Our goal here is to go through all of the steps that we would have to go through.”
He says a lot has been learned from three previous drills held at past international conferences and from other asteroid exercises that have been separately conducted by officials at NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.