International Asteroid Day Set for June 30

ESA's Asteroid Impact Mission is joined by two triple-unit CubeSats to observe the impact of the NASA-led Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) probe with the secondary Didymos asteroid, planned for late 2022. (Credit: ESA - ScienceOffice.org)
ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission is joined by two triple-unit CubeSats to observe the impact of the NASA-led Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) probe with the secondary Didymos asteroid, planned for late 2022. (Credit: ESA – ScienceOffice.org)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands, 9 February 2016 (ESA PR) — Asteroid Day, a global movement to increase knowledge and awareness of asteroids, announced its plans for 2016 from a press conference hosted at ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands and livestreamed around the world.

Participants included astrophysicist and guitarist of rock group Queen Brian May and filmmaker Grigori Richters – who together founded Asteroid Day – as well as astronauts Tom Jones, Dorin Prunariu, Ed Lu, Chris Hadfield, Rakesh Sharma, Soyeon Yi, and Anousheh Ansari.

Also taking part were Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt; Bill Nye, Planetary Society CEO, Lord Martin Rees, UK Astronomer Royal; Amanda Sickafoose of the South African Astronomical Observatory and Franco Ongaro, ESA’s Director of Technical and Quality Management.

Ian Carnelli, project manager for ESA’s proposed Asteroid Impact Mission, spoke from the ESTEC technical centre at Noordwijk, the Netherlands: “ESA has been studying the role of space missions to address the asteroid hazard over the last 15 years.

“Today we have the technology to change the path of an asteroid, but we need to test our technology in space and learn if our models are correct by measuring all the relevant parameters.”

Four-time NASA Shuttle astronaut Tom Jones, now a board member of the Association of Space Explorers, commented: “The Association of Space Explorers continues to promote international cooperation in confronting the risks of a future asteroid impact on Earth.

“Our association of astronauts and cosmonauts is excited about supporting Asteroid Day 2016, appearing at Asteroid Day events around the globe and sharing our belief that space technology can find rogue asteroids and prevent a future damaging impact on our planet.

Asteroid Day is held on 30 June – the anniversary of the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history, at Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908. The first Asteroid Day was launched in 2015, inspiring more than 150 events worldwide, attended by tens of thousands of scientists, academics and member s of the public.

Events are organised independently by museums, research institutes, government agencies, universities, astronomers, filmmakers and concerned citizens.

Mr Richters, Asteroid Day Executive Director, announced international partners as well as six ‘premiere events’ for this year’s Day:

  • Barcelona, Spain, hosted by ICE (Spanish National Research Council)
  • Tenerife, Spain, hosted by the Starmus Festival
  • San Francisco, USA, hosted by the California Academy of Sciences/B612
  • Vienna, Austria, hosted by the Natural History Museum
  • Seoul, South Korea, hosted by the Gwacheon National Science Museum.

More information:

Today’s Asteroid Day press conference is available for replay at: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/Asteroid_day/Watch_Asteroid_Day_2016_press_conference

Pre-recorded video messages (for download): https://vimeo.com/asteroidday/videos

Join the discussion on Twitter: @asteroidday #AsteroidDay2016

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