June 29, 2017 – NASA will mark the worldwide observance of International Asteroid Day at 10:00 a.m. MDT Friday, June 30, with a special television program featuring the agency’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office and other projects working to find and study near-Earth objects (NEOs). The program will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Viewers will learn how NASA-funded researchers find, track and characterize NEOs – asteroids and comets that come within the vicinity of Earth’s orbit and could pose an impact hazard to Earth – and how NASA is working to get our nation prepared to respond to a potential impact threat.
The program will include segments on NASA’s NEO projects from multiple locations, including the agency’s Headquarters in Washington and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Viewers may submit questions during the program using #AskNASA.
The broadcast is part of a larger 24-hour Asteroid Day program from Broadcasting Center Europe, beginning at 7 p.m. June 29 (1 a.m. June 30 GMT) and streaming online at:
The United Nations has declared June 30 to be International Asteroid Day, and space agencies, astronauts, scientists and rock stars will be a part of the 24-hour global telethon. The telethon will be broadcast worldwide from Luxembourg, highlighting the threat from asteroids and other ‘near-Earth objects’ that pose an impact risk.
“At NASA, every day is an asteroid day, but we value the international collaboration for a designated day to call attention to the importance of detecting and tracking hazardous asteroids,” said Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson at NASA Headquarters.
In December 2016, the United Nations proclaimed the last day in June as International Asteroid Day. June 30 marks the anniversary of the largest-ever, in modern times, atmospheric entry of a meteoroid (thought to be a comet or small asteroid), which exploded over the Tunguska region of Siberia in 1908. With an estimated size of over 40 m, it devastated an uninhabited area the size of a major metropolitan city.
Detritus in our Solar System such as asteroids and other near-Earth objects – basically, anything whose orbit brings it close to Earth – impact Earth every day. Most of them are little more than small particles of dust and they burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere. However, larger ones, such as Tunguska – or the 20 m diameter object that exploded high over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013, with 20–30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb – can threaten human health and property.
In the United States, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office is responsible for finding, tracking and characterizing potentially hazardous asteroids and comets coming near Earth, issuing warnings about possible impacts, and assisting coordination of U.S. government response planning, should there be an actual impact threat.
For updates, follow the #AsteroidDay hashtag on Twitter.