Columnist Leonard David

Details on the Planetary Impact Emergency Response Working Group

Asteroid Hurtling Toward Earth
Incoming! Who ya going to call? A Planetary Impact Emergency Response Working Group (PIERWG) Charter has been developed (Image credit: NASA)

A partnership between the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and NASA is in place "to develop guidance to prepare for any potential impact of our planet by a large natural object."

A Planetary Impact Emergency Response Working Group (PIERWG) Charter was signed in August 2015 and is now available for public viewing here

The Charter notes that "the risks are inherently unique and there are currently no national policy covering this particular threat."

Spelled out in the Charter is the framework for the structure and processes of an interagency team focused on preparation for a predicted or actual impact of an asteroid or comet that could affect the United States or its territories.

The Charter details the roles, responsibilities, and membership of the PIERWG.

Coordinating agencies

The objective of the PIERWG provides a forum for affected U.S. Departments and Agencies to develop the essential information and recommendations needed by senior leadership to make informed decisions to respond to the “unique challenges” of an impending NEO impact.

PIERWG coordinating agencies include the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Homeland Security-Science and Technology, as well as Department of Defense, and the Department of State’s Office of Space and Advanced Technology.

Approving the document is Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator of the Response Directorate of FEMA and NASA’s James Green, Director of the Planetary Science Division.

In early January, NASA announced the establishment of a Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) created to coordinate U.S. agencies and intergovernmental efforts to respond to future near-Earth objects that threaten Earth.

Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is former director of research for the National Commission on Space and is co-author of Buzz Aldrin's 2013 book "Mission to Mars – My Vision for Space Exploration" published by National Geographic with a new updated paperback version released in May 2015. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook or Google+. Originally published on

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Leonard David
Space Insider Columnist

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He has received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.