Scientists Planning Now for Asteroid Flyby a Decade Away

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — On April 13, 2029, a speck of light will streak across the sky, getting brighter and faster. At one point it will travel more than the width of the full Moon within a minute and it will get as bright as the stars in the Little Dipper. But it won’t be a satellite or an airplane – it will be a 1,100-foot-wide (340-meter-wide) near-Earth asteroid called 99942 Apophis that will cruise harmlessly by Earth, about 19,000 miles (31,000 kilometers) above the surface. That’s within the distance that some of our spacecraft that orbit Earth.

The international asteroid research community couldn’t be more excited.


The Day the Asteroid Might Hit

Asteroid Itokawa (Credit: JAXA)

WASHINGTON (ESA PR) — For the first time, ESA will cover a major international asteroid impact exercise live via social media, highlighting the the actions that might be taken by scientists, space agencies and civil protection organisations.

Every two years, asteroid experts from across the globe come together to simulate a fictional but plausible imminent asteroid impact on Earth. During the week-long scenario, participants – playing roles such as ‘national government’, ‘space agency’, ‘astronomer’ and ‘civil protection office’ – don’t know how the situation will evolve from one day to the next, and must make plans based on the daily updates they are given.

For the first time, ESA will cover progress of the hypothetical impact scenario from 29 April to 3 May live via social media, primarily via the @esaoperations Twitter channel.

Planetary Defense Day 3: Of Craters, Geekdom and Science Guys

Even in Meteor Crater, there's no escape....
Even in Meteor Crater, there’s no escape….

Image this scene: you’ve just hiked down to the bottom of Meteor Crater in Arizona on a brisk Spring day. Gray storm clouds hover overhead, raining down large icy particles — not quite snow, but not sleet, either — down on you and the parched desert landscape. As you snap photographs of a spectacular scene that very few people ever get to see, s0mewhere in the back of your mind, you realize that something is missing. But what?

If you guessed a PowerPoint presentation, you’d be right.


Garver: NASA to Seek Private Sector Partnership on Asteroid Retrieval Mission

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver addresses the Planetary Defense Conference in Flagstaff on April, 15, 2013. (Credit: Eric Dahlstrom)
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver addresses the Planetary Defense Conference in Flagstaff on April, 15, 2013. (Credit: Eric Dahlstrom)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

NASA will partner with private organizations seeking to catalog and mine asteroids as the space agency undertakes an ambitious effort to retrieve one of these bodies and send astronauts to explore it, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver told planetary scientists on Monday.

“When Planetary Resources was founded a few month ago and following on that Deep Space Industries, I could not have been happier,” Garver said, referring to two asteroid mining companies announced last year. “It’s proving our focus of attention on areas where there is not just U.S. government interest.”


Greetings from Flagstaff!

Meteor Crater in Arizona (Credit: Alan Levine)
Meteor Crater in Arizona (Credit: Alan Levine)

Hi everyone.

I’ve traded balmy Phoenix for nippy Flagstaff as I have gone from the Space Access Conference to the Planetary Defense 2013 Conference. There was a special public session last night on the February meteor explosion over Russia. The conference gets started this morning and runs through Friday afternoon.

Some big news: Lori Garver is in the house! She’s not on the schedule, but I expect NASA’s deputy administrator will be speaking about NASA’s asteroid retrieval mission at some point today.

I’ll be Tweeting the sessions this week @spacecom.