Asteroid Day is held on 30 June each year to mark the date of Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded history, the Siberia Tunguska event. Asteroid Day was co-founded by astrophysicist and famed musician Dr Brian May of the rock group QUEEN, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, filmmaker Grig Richters, and B612 Foundation President Danica Remy, to educate the public about the importance of asteroids in our history and the role they play in the solar system. In 2016, with the leadership of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the United Nations declared Asteroid Day to be a global day of education to raise awareness and promote knowledge in the general public about asteroids. Major events in past years have taken place in London, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Tanzania, Milan and Rimini, Italy; Garching, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; in addition to thousands of events worldwide.
Asteroid Day’s major partners include: Association of Space Explorers, B612 Foundation, Broadcasting Center Europe, EC GROUP, European Space Agency, Luxembourg Space Agency, OHB SE, and SES. Asteroid Day, Asteroid Day LIVE, Asteroid Day TV and SpaceConnectsUs are all programmes of Asteroid Foundation, a Luxembourg based non-profit.
This year, the event is a fully digital celebration of asteroid science and exploration. Panel discussions and one-on-one interviews with astronauts and world experts will be broadcast on 30 June 2020.
Each year Asteroid Day presents the public with a snap-shot of cutting-edge asteroid research from the largest telescopes on Earth to some of the most ambitious space missions. Topics of discussion this year include the acceleration in the rate of our asteroid discoveries and why it is set to accelerate even faster, the imminent arrival of samples from asteroid Ryugu and Bennu, the exciting preparations for the joint US-Europe mission to binary asteroid Didymos, and much more.
Asteroids are the leftover remnants of the birth of the planets in the Solar System, and many are the shattered fragments of these diminutive proto-planets that never made it to maturity. “Asteroid exploration missions tell us about the birth of our own planet and reveal how asteroids can serve astronauts as stepping stones to Mars,” says Tom Jones, PhD, veteran astronaut and planetary scientist, and Asteroid Day Expert Panel member.
Each asteroid is an individual with its own story to tell. And that’s what Asteroid Day is all about: bringing those stories to the widest audience possible. “Space and science have been an endless source of inspiration for SES! This is one of the reasons why we and our partners continue to do extraordinary things in space to deliver amazing experiences everywhere on earth,” says Ruy Pinto, Chief Technology Officer at SES. “Through satellite broadcasting, we are able to reach millions of TV households and this enables us to unite people around science, space, and technology topics.”
“The valuable expertise of SES and BCE play a central role in making Asteroid Day an international success and enabling us to have a global conversation about space, space resources, and asteroids in these COVID-19 times.” says Mark Serres, the CEO of the Luxembourg Space Agency.
The panel discussions include:
- “Target Asteroid: How to Move an Incoming Space Rock”
- “Ingredients of Life: Bringing Asteroid Samples to Earth”
- “Asteroid Safari: Finding the Elusive Space Rocks”
- “Preparing the Future: Making Tools to Investigate Asteroids”
- “Seeing is Believing: The Art of Asteroid Computer Simulations”
- “From Satellites to Asteroids: Luxembourg’s and ESA’s role”
- “Ask Me Anything About Asteroids with Astronauts”
A highlight of this year’s events will be the official premier of the documentary Apollo 9 & Beyond (at Vimeo.com), which profiles Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, who has been a leader in efforts to deal with the threat of asteroid impacts on Earth:
In this profoundly beautiful and moving film, Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart discusses the Apollo 9 mission, his life-altering spacewalk, and our cosmic birth. Rusty describes testing the Lunar Module, the first true spaceship that would four month later land men on the moon, his historic spacewalk, the first EVA of the Apollo era, and the incredible beauty of the Earth from space.
Beyond the Apollo 9 mission itself, Rusty goes much deeper to explore the philosophical and evolutionary implications of humanity’s first steps into the cosmos, describing the powerful effects of his “five minutes” alone on the Lunar Module porch as he observed the Earth below and pondered the big questions of existence – questions he would come to answer back on Earth.
Here is an infographic illustrating the rate of impacts on earth versus the size of the asteroids: Asteroid danger explained – ESA
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