Planetary defense: The white paper

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While I’ve been dithering about how and what to blog about the fifth biennial Planetary Defense Conference (PDC), which I attended April 15-19, 2013, in Flagstaff, AZ, the conference organizers have completed a white paper on the conference proceedings, released this month.

Sponsored by 23 organizations, the 2013 PDC, an International Academy of Astronautics event, drew 225 attendees. Webcasting from the conference is archived here. The PDC white paper includes brief session-by-session summaries of presentations at the conference, a summary of comments and suggestions offered by attendees at the end of the conference, and a list of recommendations distilled from conference proceedings by the organizers.

Among these recommendation are to:

• Increase the rate of NEO discovery by launching space-based surveys, enhancing ground-based surveys, and upgrading radar surveys;

• Continue improving understanding of “the types of structures and materials that might be encountered by deflection/disruption missions and the responses to kinetic impact and other deflection/disruption efforts”;

• Designing kinetic impactor missions “and developing the necessary tools and payloads for these types of actions” to “verify model predictions and build confidence in our abilities to deal with an actual threat”;

• Continue tabletop NEO impact mitigation exercises “at the local, state, national and international level” to help disaster planning agencies be prepared; and

• Develop and implement “an overall coordination and communication plan for planetary defense related topics. Information on the nature of a NEO threat, possible deflection/disruption options, the evolution of a threat scenario, risk and uncertainty, and credible tools for simple deflection mission design should be added to currently available authoritative web pages.”

In my next blog post, I will offer some of my observations from the PDC. Stay tuned!

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