June 13, 2017 – The B612 Foundation today announced the formation of a new science and technology institute dedicated to protecting Earth from asteroid impacts. Dr. Ed Lu, three time US astronaut and Co-founder of B612, will serve as Executive Director of the new B612 Asteroid Institute, collaborating with a team of planetary scientists and engineers from around the world to conduct research, technology development, and data analysis on asteroid detection and deflection.
The team includes several scientists and engineers from Colorado including Marc Buie and Dr. Dan Durda of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and John Troeltzsch of Ball Aerospace. Dr. Clark Chapman, Planetary Scientist (retired), SwRI, is a Co-founder of B612 and serves as a Board Director and Institute Advisor.
Since its founding in 2002, B612 has served as a primary catalyst in furthering the field of planetary defense. The organization has a long history of funding research on asteroid detection and deflection with major institutions, including Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The organization is now expanding and consolidating all research and analysis under the B612 Asteroid Institute.
The B612 Asteroid Institute will be a virtual organization with a particularly close new working collaboration with Data Intensive Research in Astrophysics and Cosmology Center (DIRAC) at the Department of Astronomy of the University of Washington, whose scientists are at the forefront of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Project. For the next three years, B612 has funded two post-doctoral researchers at DIRAC, specifically dedicated to planetary defense research.
“Humankind must solve this problem of asteroid impacts, and through science and technology we can make this happen,” said Dr. Lu. “We look forward to working closely with DIRAC and LSST principals, as well as other scientists around the world, to better understand how we will protect the Earth from asteroid impacts.”
“The science of the next decade will be driven by data,” stated Andrew Connolly, Director of the DIRAC Institute. “With a new generation of telescopes and surveys coming online over the next decade, providing the most detailed census of our universe ever undertaken, we have an unparalleled opportunity for new and fundamental discoveries about our Solar System. We look forward to partnering with the Asteroid Institute to develop novel techniques and methodologies to search for and characterize the populations of asteroids within these massive data streams.”
The B612 Asteroid Institute scientists and students will focus on applying the results from the ever-widening field of asteroid and comet research to the specific issues of how to protect our planet from the impact threat.” said Dr. Clark Chapman, Planetary Scientist (retired), Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) .
B612 will be the umbrella organization for the Asteroid Institute, while continuing its work in the areas of public education and advocacy to mobilize the world’s resources to protect the Earth from asteroid impacts. Danica Remy, who has served as B612’s Chief Operating Office for the last five years, will assume the role of President.
Going forward, all of B612’s scientific and technological projects will be conducted through the Institute, including the B612 Asteroid Decision Analysis Machine (ADAM); research into synthetic tracking to improve the capability to discover asteroids smaller than 100 meters; and planning for a future small satellite constellation for detecting and tracking these smaller asteroids.
ADAM answers the call to action by the NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group which “supports the systematic examination of the potentially hazardous population to identifying cases that need extra attention early for a successful deflection campaign, should one become necessary.”