We sometimes hear news reports warning of asteroids passing close to Earth, with the possibility for disastrous results if there was a direct hit.
But most experts agree there is only a small likelihood that a large asteroid or other space object will crash into Earth and cause great destruction.
Many organizations do recognize the real risk of such an event. One example is NASA, the United States government’s space agency. NASA and its international partners continuously search the skies for what scientists call near-Earth objects (NEOs). Such objects include asteroids and comets that come within 50 million kilometers of Earth’s orbit.
This week, NASA is teaming up with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and international experts to study the possibility of a NEO hitting Earth. At a conference near Washington, D.C., scientists will simulate a made-up asteroid to explore what might happen when defending against a real-life hit.