There are plans to build a near-Earth asteroid monitoring and protection system that could potentially protect spacecraft as well, Wu told China Central Television during an event marking China’s Cosmonautics Day this year.
The system, which will include ground-based and space-based elements, will catalog and analyze asteroids to determine which ones pose a potential threat to Earth or human activities in space. Specifically, the system will include a computer simulation framework that will simulate potential asteroid impacts, Wu Yanhua, deputy head of China’s National Space Administration (CNSA), explained.
The project has yet to be approved by Chinese authorities, Global Times reports, adding that it requires “multiple departmental coordination.”
China is not the only country concerned about the threat that asteroids could pose to Earth. NASA is also developing a similar project.
In November 2021, the US space agency launched a probe designed to strike a small asteroid to test whether it could change its course as a result of a collision and whether this could be an effective planetary defense against such a threat.
A probe called DART, mounted on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, should hit a small space rock orbiting a larger asteroid, changing it speed by a fraction of a percent – but enough to be observed and measured from Earth. The probe is expected to reach its target about 10 months after launch.
In the next 100 years, no known asteroid capable of causing serious damage will collide with Earth, NASA said last October. However, the agency added that 60% of such space rocks may actually go undetected.
A meteor exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013. Although the object burned up in the atmosphere and only small fragments of it reached the Earth, more than 1,600 people were injured as a result of the explosion, dozens were hospitalized.