International asteroid-risk response urged

June 7, 2012 at 4:25 PM
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BROOMFIELD, Colo., June 7 (UPI) -- An effective international communications strategy is needed to deal with potentially hazardous asteroids that could strike the Earth, a U.S. report says.

Such a system would issue international warnings about possible impending strikes and educate the public about the threats posed by near-Earth objects, the report from the Colorado-based Secure World Foundation said.

The report was presented at the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space meeting held in Vienna.

"A lot of attention is focused on the catastrophic damage a large asteroid could do if it collided with Earth," Michael Simpson, executive director of the Secure World Foundation, said.

"This report focuses on how to prevent the even greater damage we could cause ourselves by miscommunicating or failing to work together on a common response to the threat."

The challenge is that no system of its kind has been created before, the report authors said.

"Today no worldwide disaster-notification protocol of any kind exists. The closest analogy might be the cooperative early-warning system developed for tsunamis in the wake of the devastating inundation of the coasts of Southeast Asia in 2004," the wrote.

Social media and television could be used to raise public consciousness of near-Earth objects and the threat they pose, the researchers said.

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