Team Setting Up Strategy For Hazardous NEOs

Lee Rannals for
Scientists have gathered with other experts to create a strategy for potentially hazardous Near earth Objects (NEOs).
Nearly 40 scientists, reporters, risk communications specialists, and Secure World Foundation staff participated in a meeting in November last year to come up with a strategy for dealing with hazardous NEOs.
The report created by the team will be presented at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and its Action Team-14 on NEOs during the 55th session of the UN COPUOS being held in Vienna, Austria.
During the meeting, the group explored in detail the views of risk communication experts and experienced science journalists on the development of a successful communications strategy.
“A lot of attention is focused on the catastrophic damage a large asteroid could do if it collided with Earth,” Dr. Michael Simpson, Executive Director of Secure World Foundation, said in a press release. “This report focuses on how to prevent the even greater damage we could cause ourselves by mis-communicating or failing to work together on a common response to the threat.”
He said the threat of an impact of a large asteroid could be what shows us that our future depends on working together.
“In technical organizations, communications with the public are often treated more as an afterthought than a critical mission element,” Dr. Ray Williamson, SWF Senior Advisor, said in a press release. “This report emphasizes how important clear, effective, and accurate assessments to the public of the danger posed by a threatening Near Earth Object are to the ultimate goal of protecting human life and property.”
The group determined that there is a need to establish an effective international communications strategy for potentially hazardous NEOs by using anything from the television to the Internet.
They said that general education should include information about NEOs and their place in our solar system, the nature of the potential threat, and specific information related to warnings of potentially hazardous NEO.
The experts determined that a support group should be created for hazardous NEOs, complete with analysts, planners, scientists, psychologists, emergency management experts and other functional experts.