U.N. urges action on near-space objects

Feb. 20, 2013 at 6:34 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Following the meteor explosion in Russia that injured hundreds, a U.N. team has called for international cooperation to face the threat of near-space objects.

Researchers in the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs have recommended the formation of an International Asteroid Warning Network to pool the expertise of the world's many existing scientific agencies and organizations to identify and track objects and generate early warnings of potential impacts.

Such cooperation could have helped in the Russian event, they said.

"If the proposed coordination mechanism was in place, then at minimum it would have allowed for more observation and better understanding and education of the population on what to expect rather than having a surprise effect with people not knowing what was happening," Sergio Camacho, chairman of the space office's Action Team on Near-Earth Objects, said.

The U.N. office has long been concerned with the issue, given the potential devastation of an object that size hitting the Earth and the enormous resources required to prevent a collision if the need arises, a U.N. release said.

"Already in 1995, UNOOSA organized the United Nations International Conference on Near-Earth Objects in New York to sensitize member states about the potential threat of near-Earth objects, given the global consequences of their impact," Mazlan Othman, director of UNOOSA, said Wednesday.

The U.N. scientists recommended forming advisory groups for disaster mitigation and combining the technological resources of all space-faring nations to develop responses that may include collision-prevention missions.

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