Faced with the potential threat of an asteroid, the planetary defense is organized


AFP, published on Sunday, August 28, 2022 at 10:54 am. How would humanity react if an asteroid headed straight for Earth, putting it in immense danger? This is the question on which the International Legal Group for Planetary Defense of the United Nations, led by the French scientist Alissa Haddaji, is working, whose function is “to decide what is the best possible scientific mission to propel this asteroid”, says the scientist who also directs the Harvard & MIT Space Consortium, invited this summer to the Festival of Astronomy in Fleurance (Gers), an asteroid at the end of September, to divert its trajectory Question: What risks should the defense allow us to face planetary? Answer: “Planetary defense aims to know what to do in the event of an asteroid threat or If we discover an object that is more than 50 meters in diameter and has more than a 1% chance of impacting the Earth, we activate the SMPAG advisory group (Space Mission). planning advisory group, editor’s note), approved by the Scientific Committee of the United Nations Space Council and integrated by space agencies of different countries. If the asteroid is more than 300 meters, we are talking about a continental impact, and if it is more than a kilometer, 25% of living species would be eradicated. If it is 50 meters, therefore we have a national risk in a broad way.” Q: What methods are provided in the event of an asteroid threat? A: “It’s not primarily +Armageddon+, blowing up the asteroid, because it’s not desirable to create more pieces. It would be possible to poke it and push it through this impact, which NASA’s DART and Hera missions European Space Agency (ESA) will test soon. If the asteroid is very large or you go very late, it would be possible for a nuclear charge to explode next to the asteroid, melting some of the rock that would break up and I would push him to the other side, by reaction. .” Q: In what legal framework would such an intervention be carried out? A: “The Outer Space Treaty states that sending a weapon into space is prohibited. Also, the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty prohibits any nuclear explosion. If it turns out that we have to send a nuclear warhead, the The UN Security Council should temporarily override these rules by authorizing a repeal of this treaty. Then we find ourselves following the specific rules of the UN Security Council with 15 members, five possible vetoes. Of the 15 members there must be at least nine who agree without a veto.” Q: How would the decision be made? A: “Decision-making schemes have been developed. The IAWN (International Asteroid Warning Network, editor’s note), tasked with detecting asteroids and assessing their risks, would notify the United Nations and the SMPAG group as well as the politicians of the country or countries possibly affected. The decision will be made at the political level on the advice of SMPAG.” Q: Is space affected by current international tensions? A: “That’s where we see the role of space. This is an area where, in essence, everybody needs everybody. That’s one of its most valuable features. The fact that we have a wonderful space treaty that dates back to 1967, adopted by 111 nations, which says that space belongs to no one, that it is there for scientific freedom of exploration, makes it possible to find solutions even when there are tensions The principle of the International Space Station, where all countries work together for a common goal of understanding the universe, it’s inspiring. With the current international tensions, maybe things will change, we don’t know at the moment. But we are in a field where knowledge guides, and where the scientific experts have a say in decisions.
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