UN plan to monitor near-Earth objects
- Published: 4 Nov 2013 at 10.58
- Online news:
NEW YORK - The United Nations General Assembly has approved a plan to monitor near-Earth objects through an international network and change their projected trajectories to avoid impacts, people familiar with the plan said on Sunday.
It will be the first time that countries have responded to the potential threat of near-Earth objects through UN-led international cooperation. So far, countries have conducted individual studies on how to deal with asteroids, and lunar and Martian meteorites.
The General Assembly approved the plan after Yasushi Horikawa, technical counselor of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who serves as chairman of the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space presented it during a session on Oct 22.
A meteor that flew over Russia's Chelyabinsk region in February has increased calls for international collaboration to monitor and deal with near-Earth objects more effectively.
Japan is considering how to participate in the plan, which was compiled early this year by the Vienna-based COPUOS.
The plan involves the creation of an International Asteroid Warning Network, which would link astronomical observatories and radar facilities around the world to ensure the discovery, tracking and observation of near-Earth objects.
In case of a credible impact threat, the IAWN would ensure that information on such objects is gathered expeditiously, while informing COPUOS and other bodies.
The plan also envisages establishing a Space Missions Planning Advisory Group comprising space-faring nations that would consider measures to alter the expected trajectories of near-Earth objects to avoid impacts by using rockets and unmanned space probes.
But because countries use radar technology to monitor satellites and other objects around the Earth for military as well as scientific purposes, they may find it difficult to reach a consensus on how much information to share with the envisaged network.