The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced the second annual Asteroid Day – co-founded by astrophysicist and guitarist of the rock group Queen Brian May – to be held June 30, 2016. ESA says it’s a global movement to increase knowledge and awareness of asteroids, in a world becoming increasingly aware of the danger of asteroid strikes. ESA hosted the February 9, 2016 press conference to announce the day’s events at its technical heart in the Netherlands. The event was livestreamed around the world.
Participants at the press conference included 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. ESA said:
Asteroid Day is an annual global movement to increase public awareness of potential asteroid impacts with Earth, and the importance of guarding against them. It was co-founded in 2015 by Brian May, astrophysicist and lead guitarist for the rock band Queen, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, and German filmmaker Grig Richters.
The day is held on June 30 each year to mark Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded history, the Siberia Tunguska event, which devastated over 2,000 square kilometers [about 700 square miles], the equivalent area of a major metropolitan city.
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.
Events are organized 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.
Bottom line: Asteroid Day 2016 will be held June 30, the anniversary of the Tunguska event. Go to asteroidday.org to learn more.