UN Completes Planning Phase

A special United Nations team on hazardous asteroids has been dissolved after completing its task of setting up organizations to deal with planet-threatening space rocks. The UN’s Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space formally dissolved its Action Team 14, in recognition of the group’s successful completion of its mandate to coordinate international mitigation efforts for near-Earth object (NEO) threats, officials announced last month.

Action Team 14 coordinated the establishment of the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), and thus played a vital role in the international community’s response to any potential near-Earth object impact threat,” said Elöd Both of Hungary, chair of the subcommittee. …

IAWN’s purpose is to establish a worldwide effort to detect, track and physically characterize NEOs, to determine those that are potential impact threats to Earth. This network consists of a partnership of scientific institutions, observatories and other interested parties performing observations, orbit computation, modeling, and additional scientific research related to the impact potential and effects of asteroids.

The primary purpose of the SMPAG is to prepare for an international response to an NEO threat through the exchange of information, development of options for collaborative research and mission opportunities, and conducting NEO threat mitigation planning. SMPAG is currently chaired by the European Space Agency (ESA).

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