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UN Holds Talks On Asteroid Defence After Russian Meteorite Impact

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RUSSIA
A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning | AP

The United Nations has held high-level discussions about the threat of asteroids and meteors after last week's bombardment in Russia.

According to Space.com, the near-miss of asteroid 2012 DA14 combined with the impact over the Ural Mountains which left hundreds injured, has brought the threat of such impacts into sharper focus.

More than 900 people were reported injured after the meteorite struck a Russian town on Friday. The near-miss of DA14 caused no injuries, but had it hit could have caused massive devastation.

Discussions about both incidents were held on 15 February's meeting of the Action Team-14, during the 50th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space group.

The meeting being held in Vienna is attempting to build consensus on an international response to the threat of near-Earth objects (NEOs).

The group has been working for years to develop an Information, Analysis and Warning Network designed to watch for dangerous objects in space and potentially do something about them.

The effort was inspired partly by a report published in 2008 titled 'Asteroid Threats: A Call for a Global Response', in which experts called for international action against NEOs.

"When Near Earth Object (NEO) impacts occur they can cause terrible destruction, dwarfing that caused by more familiar natural disasters," the report said.

"Advances in observing technology will lead to the detection of over 500,000 NEOs over the next 15 years. Of those several dozen will pose an uncomfortably high risk of striking Earth and inflicting local or regional devastation."

Needless to say the group is still working towards that goal - leaving us open to an impact.

"This event in Russia and the pass of the larger asteroid 2012 DA14 are good reminders that many thousands of objects like it pass near Earth daily," said Ray Williamson, who is participating in the UN discussions.

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