Out of this World

Who needs the Men In Black when NASA has its own Planetary Defense Officer standing guard? An article in Motherboard by Daniel Oberhaus profiles Lindley Johnson, formerly of the Air Force and NASA's Near Earth Object Observation, who watches the skies for killer asteroids.

Although this role may sound like something out of a blockbuster movie, Johnson's everyday duties will sound familiar to many disaster response professionals. "As the Planetary Defense Officer, Johnson's responsibilities fall into three main categories: detection, deflection, and emergency preparedness," writes Oberhaus. Johnson also runs drills and preparedness exercises, such as a recent simulation of an asteroid striking the coast of southern California.

"Thankfully a major impact is an extremely rare event, something that happens on the order of several hundred to 1,000 years," Johnson told Motherboard. "It doesn't stress me out that much."