Ever wondered what would happen if the earth actually found itself in the path of a huge asteroid?
Would we send a team of oil rig workers to destroy it with a nuke a la Armageddon or is there something less extreme involved?
Well, according to the outline of an emergency plan that has been unveiled in a White House paper, we aren’t quite there yet.
The National Near-Earth Object (NEO) Preparedness Strategy has laid down the process that might be followed by the United States if an asteroid or other NEO is headed our way.
First up it has suggested that more needs to be done to improve detection systems to increase the chances of doing something to halt its path.
Then, once the asteroid has been detected, it suggests building an AI space probe with lasers and sensors to find out more about the asteroid including details about its size and weight.
Beyond that it’s a little bit more open to interpretation but the data will help defence experts develop a strategy for what to do.
If they think its necessary a warning siren, like you might find in hurricane-hit areas, might go off to tell people to find cover.
But as this is a US-led plan there is no certainty what will happen if its headed for the UK.
The paper, which was put together by the Inter-agency Working Group for Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-Bound Near-Earth Objects, is undecided on whether the US should intervene if the asteroid is not headed for them.
It added: ‘NEO impacts are a global hazard and could have major environmental, economic, and geopolitical consequences detrimental to the United States, even if the impact is beyond US territory.
‘Although currently a global leader in detecting and tracking NEOs, the United States will depend (in part) on international cooperation and coordination to help develop capabilities for characterization and future capabilities related to the development and implementation of deflection and disruption capabilities for NEOs.’