World Asteroid Day, June 30th

InternationalAsteroidDay_pic
Credit: asteroidday.org

What is The International Asteroid Day

On June 30th, International Asteroid Day, also known as World Asteroid Day, is celebrated as the anniversary of the Tunguska disaster in 1908. It aims to raise public awareness about the impact of asteroids in the creation of our universe, how asteroids pave the way for future exploration, And to inform the public about the crisis communication actions to be taken at the global level in case of an asteroid threat to Earth.

But before we dive into the background story of World Asteroid Day, let us first know, what is an Asteroid?

To put it simply – “Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets.”

Asteroids are often found between Mars and Jupiter’s orbits, but some have more eccentric orbits. Asteroids are rocky-metallic structures that vary in size from about the size of pebbles to about 940 km in diameter.

Asteroids are leftover from the formation of our solar system. Our solar system began about 4.6 billion years ago when a big cloud of gas and dust collapsed. During this process, most of the material fell to the center of the cloud and formed the sun. Some of the condensing dust became planets. The objects in the asteroid belt never had the chance to be incorporated into planets. They are leftovers from that time long ago when planets formed.

Mathilde, Gaspra, and Ida are three asteroids that have been imaged by NASA spacecraft. In this image, you can see that asteroids come in a variety shapes and sizes. Image credit: NASA/JPL

History 

The United Nations General Assembly passed resolution A/RES/71/90 in December 2016, designating 30 June as International Asteroid Day to remember the Tunguska impact over Siberia, Russian Federation, on June 30, 1908, on an international level and raise the concerns about the dangers of asteroids.

Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and lead guitarist of QUEEN, co-founded International Asteroid Day with Danica Remy, President of B612 Foundation, Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 Astronaut, and filmmaker Grig Richters to raise public consciousness about the importance of asteroids in the creation of our universe and the role they play in our solar system today.

Tunguska Impact

On 30th June, a massive explosion occurred over the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, Russia. According to NASA, the 220-million-pound asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of about 33,500 miles per hour which heated the air around it to 44,500 degrees Fahrenheit. At the height of about 28,000 feet, the combination of pressure and heat caused the asteroid to combust and destroy itself. This resulted in a fireball and the release of energy equivalent to about 185 Hiroshima bombs. Over an area of 830 square miles (2,150 square kilometers), the blast destroyed an estimated 80 million trees

Precautions OF Asteroid Hazards 

On recommendations for an international response to a near-Earth Object impact threat, endorsed by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in 2013, the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) were established in 2014.

The International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) uses well-defined communication plans and protocols to assist Governments in analyzing possible consequences of an asteroid impact and supporting the planning of mitigation responses.

The Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) is an inter-space agency forum that identifies technologies needed for near-Earth Object deflection and aims to build consensus on recommendations for planetary defense measures.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)  has worked on Near-Earth objects (NEOs), potentially catastrophic threats to our planet. NEO is an asteroid or comet, which passes close to the Earth’s orbit. Addressing such a hazard, including the identification of those objects that pose a threat of impact and planning a corresponding mitigation campaign.

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