International Asteroid Day - 30 June.

Every year on June 30th, International Asteroid Day raises public awareness about the hazards of an asteroid impact. It’s also a day to inform the public about crisis communication actions necessary in the event of a credible near-Earth object event.

Considered minor planets, some asteroids even have a companion moon. These massive objects orbit the sun consisting of rock, metals, and other elements. The largest asteroids are over 300 miles in diameter. If they were to collide with Earth, the damage would be extensive.

An asteroid collision would cause environmental impacts, such as shock waves, heat radiation, earthquakes, and tsunamis. The currently known asteroid count is 958,915. Most of these asteroids orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists refer to this area as the asteroid belt. There are three classes of asteroids.

According to scientists, an asteroid named Apophis will come exceptionally close to Earth in 2029. They expect the asteroid to be only 25,000 miles from Earth. Within this distance, Earth has most of its communication satellites. Gravity could cause this asteroid to leave its trajectory and collide with Earth in 2036. Because of asteroids and other near-earth objects, scientists believe we need to have a space system in place by 2040 that will protect our planet from a potential impact.

History of International Asteroid Day

Near-Earth objects (NEOs) are asteroids or comets that come close to Earth’s orbit and pose potential catastrophic threats to our planet. NASA’s Center for NEO Studies has discovered over 16,000 Near Earth Asteroids. The Tunguska event in Siberia, Russia, on June 30, 1908, remains the largest recorded asteroid impact in Earth’s history.

On February 15, 2013, a significant fireball known as a “superbolide” entered Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over Chelyabinsk, Russia. According to NASA, the estimated diameter of the asteroid was approximately 18 meters with a mass of 11,000 tons. The impact energy of the Chelyabinsk Fireball was estimated to be around 440 kilotons of TNT explosives, making it the most energetic impact event since the Tunguska blast in 1908.

Recognizing the global nature of the NEO impact hazard, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has been actively involved in addressing this issue for many years. Cooperation among the international community is essential to identify NEOs that pose a threat and plan appropriate mitigation campaigns to ensure public safety.

To respond effectively to the NEO impact threat, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) endorsed recommendations in 2013. This led to the establishment of two initiatives in 2014: the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG).

The International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) employs well-defined communication plans and protocols to assist governments in analyzing the potential consequences of an asteroid impact and supports the planning of mitigation responses.

The Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) is an inter-agency forum that identifies the necessary technologies for deflecting near-Earth objects. It aims to build consensus on recommendations for measures to defend the planet from potential NEO threats.

Source: www.un.org


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