The mitigation, management, and survivability of asteroid/comet impact with earth

Victoria Garshnek, David Morrison, Frederick M. Burkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The chances that Earth will collide with a significant near earth object (NEO) within the next century are very small, but such a collision is possible, would be catastrophic, and could happen at any time. Much discussion has been devoted to methods of diverting these objects away from Earth through the use of space technology. However, if these efforts are unsuccessful, we would need to implement effective strategies to survive the event, no matter how cataclysmic. To date, disaster management for various impact scenarios has not been addressed (except in novels and Hollywood films). An impact disaster may be many orders of magnitude greater than any disaster the human species has ever experienced. Initially, technology and experience gained in other large-scale disasters will most likely form the foundation of how these impact events will be managed and classified. Given the size and energy of the projectile, the estimated area of damage, and whether impact effects might be localized or global in nature, we can begin to build basic disaster response scenarios, anticipate public health concerns, and formulate questions in need of answers. Questions we must deal with include: what will be required technologically, sociologically, and medically to survive? What types of evacuation plans and warning systems might be required? Capabilities in need of further investigation include: technological protection strategies related to 'impact winter', expanded chemical hazard control methodologies, food storage and production, roles of national governments, and international cooperation. Whatever the magnitude and severity of the event, we must reflect on what we know, what capabilities we can apply, develop or adapt, and seriously investigate what might be done to manage it and survive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-222
Number of pages10
JournalSpace Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 16 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Disaster management
  • Global catastrophe
  • Impact
  • Near earth object

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Law


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