Scientists Declare First 'Asteroid Day' to Raise Awareness of Global Threat

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 - 2:39PM
NASA
ESA
Earth
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 - 2:39PM
Scientists Declare First 'Asteroid Day' to Raise Awareness of Global Threat
Millions of years ago, an asteroid impact caused a massive extinction event that wiped many species, including the dinosaurs, off the face of the Earth. Now, scientists are trying to ensure that humans don't go the way of the T-Rex by declaring today the first-ever Asteroid Day. In honor of the one-year anniversary of the massive asteroid impact in Siberia that felled 80 million trees, a group of experts got together at events all over the world in order to raise awareness about the imminent danger of an asteroid impact.



Opening quote
"Asteroids are the only natural disaster we know how to prevent and protecting our planet, families and communities is the goal of Asteroid Day," said Grigorij Richters, producer of the just-released asteroid-themed movie 51 Degrees North and co-founder of Asteroid Day. "Asteroids teach us about the origins of life, but they also can impact the future of our species and life on Earth."
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According to the event's official website, NASA only tracks approximately 10% of the 1 million asteroids that could potentially be on a collision course with Earth, so while the space agency doesn't expect any "close calls" or major impacts until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past in 2027, there could easily be unforeseen impacts. 

Opening quote
"Planets can't hit us, while comet debris doesn't survive to strike our surface. But asteroids -- chunks of stone or metal -- arrive by the thousands every day, and are responsible for nearly all of the 50,000 catalogued meteorites," said Slooh astronomer Bob Berman. "The largest asteroids are fascinating to observe, while the hazardous ones need to be watched while defenses are being conceived."
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NASA is trying to combat the problem, albeit in slightly insane-sounding ways. The space agency recently completed a deal with the National Nuclear Security Administration, the branch of the Department of Energy that's "responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science," in order to protect Earth from killer asteroids. In other words, they plan to combat asteroids by nuking them.

Meanwhile, ESA held a meeting with representatives from Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom in order to discuss emergency response to killer asteroids. But the experts behind Asteroid Day, including astrophysicist Dr. Brian May (also, incidentally, the guitarist from Queen), insist that these efforts are not sufficient. In fact, they're supporting the 100x Declaration, which advocates for a 100-fold increase in asteroid detection and impact prevention.

Opening quote
"The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it becomes that the human race has been living on borrowed time," said May. "Asteroid Day and the 100X Declaration are ways for the public to contribute to bring about an awareness that we can get hit anytime. A city could be wiped out any time because we just don't know enough about what's out there."
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