If the impending doom of an asteroid striking the earth is something that fuels all of your nightmares, you'll be relieved to hear about NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, announced on Thursday (Jan. 7).
The office will be in charge of tracking near-Earth objects (NEO) of all sizes — including asteroids — and warning us Earthlings about “close passes” or “potential impacts,” according to a press release from NASA.
It will also help coordinate with other international and U.S. agencies (like FEMA and the Department of Defense) to assist with response plans and relief work should a collision actually happen.
"The formal establishment of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office makes it evident that the agency is committed to perform a leadership role in national and international efforts for detection of these natural impact hazards, and to be engaged in planning if there is a need for planetary defense," Lindley Johnson, who now has the crazy cool title of Planetary Defense Officer, said in the NASA release.
According to NASA, about 1,500 near-Earth objects are now detected each year.