"This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know, right now, to host life and that is the planet Earth", Bridenstine said at the conference.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has warned the globe that it needs to prepare for the prospect of a potentially deadly asteroid colliding with Earth - saying it's not something that's merely the stuff of big-budget Hollywood films.
NASA however has detailed plans to track the movements of as many as 90 percent of asteroids near earth, sizes 140 meters or larger.
The "tabletop" exercise begins with the premise that on March 26, astronomers "discovered" an asteroid that could be hazardous to Earth.
The day after 2019 PDC is discovered, ESA and NASA's impact monitoring systems identify several future dates when the asteroid could hit Earth.
"We'll observe the asteroid with both optical and radar telescopes".
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NEOs are seen as any objects that orbit the sun and come within 30 million miles of Earth's orbit. However, as observations continue, the likelihood of an impact in 2027 increases.
On that same day in 2013, an asteroid almost 100 feet across known as "Duende" passed near Earth. For comparison, the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor event - the only known such incident in modern times - injured around 1200 people (no fatalities) and it was approximately 20 metres (66 ft) in diameter travelling with a speed of 19.16 ± 0.15 kilometres per second.
Currently, there are two asteroid-centric missions going on around the world - NASA's OSIRIS-REx probe, which reached the Bennu asteroid in December 2018, and the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which recently "bombed" the Ryugu asteroid in an effort to learn more about it.
This week, NASA, FEMA, and their scientific partners in countries around the world will put decades of research and knowledge to work as they simulate a full-scale asteroid impact scenario.
Although it is not yet clear where the asteroid might hit, experts will need to account for as many eventualities as possible. In a statement made at the annual Planetary Defense Conference on Monday, Bridenstine quoted a paper estimating that a Chelyabinsk-type event could happen once every sixty years.
"Fortunately, impacts from medium and large asteroids are not very common", explains Detlef Koschny, senior asteroid expert at ESA who will be involved in the hypothetical scenario.