Planetary Defense Coordination Office: "In the name of planetary defense": This US agency is supposed to protect the earth from sinking

What sounds like a scene from the latest Roland Emmerich film actually happened.

Planetary Defense Coordination Office: "In the name of planetary defense": This US agency is supposed to protect the earth from sinking

What sounds like a scene from the latest Roland Emmerich film actually happened. During the mission with the aptly named "Dart" (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), the US space agency Nasa crashed a probe into an asteroid for the first time in history - with full intention. Based on the cosmic accident, the researchers wanted to find out whether it is possible to change the trajectory of an asteroid.

The expensive collision (the project cost almost 325 million euros) is far more than a scientific gimmick. Ultimately, it's about saving the world. Well - at least in the unlikely event of cases.

The space agency published the final seconds of the crash on Twitter. "In the name of planetary defense!" someone shouts in the background.

With darts, one is about to jump into a "new era of mankind," as Nasa manager Lori Glaze announced. Rarely have people been so happy about an accident – ​​and rightly so. Dart's target, the asteroid Dimorphos, poses no threat to Earth.

But they do exist, the horror scenarios. The best-known example is certainly the chunk of space that hit what is now Mexico more than 66 million years ago, ending the age of the dinosaurs in one fell swoop. Scientists currently see no signs that such a "global killer" is racing towards our planet. But if you do, you want to be prepared.

That's what the Planetary Defense Coordination Office, or PDCO for short, is for. The department, established in 2016, has several tasks. It is primarily intended to keep an eye on celestial bodies such as asteroids and comets (you can read about the differences between the two in the info box below). According to NASA, everything that penetrates into our planetary neighborhood, 30 million miles within the orbit, is considered close to earth. The PDCO is designed to detect potential threats (PHOs) from a size of 30 to 50 meters at an early stage and to assess the possible impact of a collision. However, the authority not only looks on, but, as with darts, is also responsible for researching and initiating possible defense measures. The motto: "Hic servare diem", "Here to save the day", as it says on the logo:

If the literally inevitable cannot be avoided, the PDCO employees are also the contact and coordination partner for the US government and must inform the public. "When a PHO is determined to pose a significant risk of an impact on Earth (greater than 1 percent over the next 50 years), the PDCO prepares notification messages for NASA, which is sent to the President's Office, the US Congress and other departments and authorities," explains the US space agency.

In this role, the authority has also found its way into Hollywood: In the Netflix hit "Don't look up" with Leonardo DiCaprio in the leading role, however, the help of the PDCO does not meet with overly open ears.

The celestial bodies have one thing in common: they all revolve around the sun. But where is the difference?

Sources: Nasa, ohb.de

Sources: NASA; darts; dpa

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