A big lump of rock is headed toward Earth:
The space rock, which is called 2011 AG5, is about 460 feet (140 meters) wide. It may come close enough to Earth in 2040 that some researchers are calling for a discussion about how to deflect it.
Talk about the asteroid was on the agenda during the 49th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), held earlier this month in Vienna.
A UN Action Team on near-Earth objects (NEOs) noted the asteroid’s repeat approaches to Earth and the possibility — however remote — that 2011 AG5 might smack into our planet 28 years from now.
If the rock of doom requires a gentle nudge away from Gaia to prevent a very bad day for Earthlings, NASA won’t be riding to the rescue. These days, NASA does dodgy weather research and outreach programs, not stuff in actual space with rockets piloted by flinty-eyed men called Buzz.
In the absence of NASA leadership, any effort to deflect 2011 AG5 may be left to the United Nations. What could possibly go wrong?
First, the UN would need to determine which of its bodies has jurisdiction over the giant ball of rocky doom.
The program may be led by the Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), or the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). The Security Council would issue a strongly-worded letter to 2011-AG5, possibly even going so far as to threaten the giant ball of rock hurtling through the cosmos with a Security Resolution. That’ll show it.
In the unlikely event a Security Council letter failed to change 2011-AG5’s mind, or velocity and direction, real action will be required. But who would the UN call in for advice? Earth is 70% ocean and the rock could leave a hefty dent in the seabed, so the International Seabed Authority (ISA) may need to be included. Approximately 50% of human casualties from an impact would be female, so the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) will need to be called, because it’s sexist to assume women vaporize in the same manner as men, or something.
If a decision was made to nuke the rock out of existence before it arrived on our galactic doorstep, approval might be needed from the UN Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization, even though technically the mushroom cloud would be extraterrestrial. But nuking it may not be even an option in 2040 if the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) is successful in the interim. Oh, the ironing.
Assuming the worst happened and a mighty global bureaucracy somehow failed to stop 2011-AG5’s deadly progress, at least they’ll be ready to handle the consequences. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security, the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) would immediately call a meeting. The Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) could chair.
Even though the chance of a meteor hit is slim at best, pray for a miss, or we’re doomed.
Round-Up tomorrow, as usual.