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Planetary Defense

The Planetary Society recognizes the threat that asteroids and comets–known as Near-Earth Objects (NEOs)–represent. While an asteroid strike could have devastating effects, the good news is that an asteroid impact is the only natural disaster that is completely preventable. Our role in planetary defense ranges from our Laser Bees project to redirect asteroids, to our Shoemaker NEO grant program to support astronomers who seek to discover, observe and track NEOs.

We are also committed to educating about the asteroid threat and The Planetary Society’s 5 Step Plan to Prevent Asteroid Impact. As a special edition of our Random Space Fact video series, we have produced a series of 6 fun, short videos to introduce you to the asteroid threat and The Planetary Society’s 5 Step Plan:

For updates on Planetary Defense and other Planetary Society news and activities, be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter, The Planetary Post.

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Asteroids and Comets

Is there an asteroid or comet out there that poses a risk to life on Earth? The answer is certainly "yes," but we don't yet know where the next major impactor will come from or when it will crash. The best way to size up the threat and reduce this uncertainty is to search the skies for these crumbs of the solar system, categorizing asteroids and comets using the Torino Scale.

An Asteroid This Way Comes

The Planetary Society / Kim Orr

An Asteroid This Way Comes
What are near-Earth objects and how could they affect us?

Shoemaker NEO Grant Program

The Planetary Society established the Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object Grant program to award amateur observers, observers in developing countries, and professional astronomers who, with seed funding, can greatly increase their programs' contributions to NEO research. Grant recipients have played critical roles in tracking small asteroids that were discovered by major asteroid survey programs, and providing the crucial follow-up observations to determine precise orbits for these objects.

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Laser Bees

We've been working with a team at the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow in Scotland to study a new technique which uses concentrated light to gently move an asteroid – a project we called "Mirror Bees" – using mirrors on several spacecraft swarming around an asteroid to focus sunlight onto a spot on the asteroid. As part of the initial Mirror Bees project, researchers found that lasers are more effective than mirrors and can be used from greater distances. So, now the project is called "Laser Bees."

Learn More »

Defending Earth

The Planetary Society / Kim Orr

Defending Earth
The Planetary Society's 5-step plan for tackling the asteroid threat.

Blogs about Planetary Defense

Did a Planetary Society citizen scientist help find one of Earth’s biggest impact craters?

Jason Davis • June 12, 2017 • 6

Scientists have found what appears to be a 250-kilometer-wide crater near the Falkland Islands. Is it ground zero for Earth's largest-ever extinction event?

Our asteroid hunters are trying to save the world. Here’s what they’ve been up to

Jason Davis • April 17, 2017

Here are some recent reports from our NEO Shoemaker Grant program asteroid observers, who are quite literally trying to save the world.

Five steps to prevent asteroid impacts

Bruce Betts • June 30, 2015 • 3

For Asteroid Day, Bruce Betts reviews 5 steps needed to prevent asteroid impacts, as well as how The Planetary Society is involved in those.

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Planetary Defense Projects

Shoemaker Near-Earth Object Grant Program

Planetary Society's Shoemaker Grant program supports astronomers following up potentially hazardous asteroids.

Laser Bees

What do we do if an asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth? At this point, the answer is not clear, so The Planetary Society has partnered with researchers to discover ways to protect Earth when we one-day find a dangerous space rock.

MER
Let's Change the World

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Near Earth Object
Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent.

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