For the exercise, officials from multiple government agencies imagined that an asteroid had been spotted this fall, with arrival predicted for the fall of 2020. There would be only a two-percent probability that the asteroid would make impact but if it did, it would hit a narrow band of the planet that crossed the entire U.S.
As the exercise progressed, that probability increased to 65 percent, with observation then becoming difficult because of the asteroid’s position. When they were once again able to observe the fictitious asteroid, probably had jumped to 100 percent.
The exercise showed that while there are many challenges in battling an approaching asteroid, there is also a long window of observation that allows for preparation. Working together, FEMA and NASA hope they’ll be able to come up with a plan that will protect the Earth if such an event occurs.