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World Asteroid Day 2020: History, Significance, Tunguska event, and Key Facts

Updated: Apr 14


Asteroid
Asteroid

On June 30th, space enthusiasts around the world celebrate World Asteroid Day, an annual event that aims to raise awareness about asteroids and their impact on our planet. This day was founded by the Association of Space Explorers in 2016 and later adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as International Asteroid Day. The significance of this day lies in its ability to educate the general public about the role of asteroids in our universe and solar system, as well as the potential future use of their resources.


Asteroids are small, rocky bodies that orbit the sun and can range in size from pebbles to around 600 miles in diameter. They are made up of a variety of materials, including metals, and are thought to be remnants of the solar system's formation. There are hundreds of thousands of asteroids known to exist in our solar system, with many more yet to be discovered.


The Tunguska impact, which occurred on June 30, 1908, in Siberia, Russia, is considered the largest asteroid impact on record. It is estimated that the asteroid entered the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 33,500 miles per hour, heating the air surrounding it to 44,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The blast flattened an area of 830 square miles of forest and is thought to have released energy equivalent to 185 Hiroshima bombs.


World Asteroid Day serves as a reminder of the potential danger asteroids pose to our planet, and the importance of understanding and studying them in order to protect ourselves. It is a global movement that encourages education and awareness about asteroids and their impact on our world.


One of the potential uses of asteroids is their resources. Many asteroids contain valuable minerals and metals that could be mined for use on Earth or in space. For example, platinum is a rare and valuable metal that is found in much higher concentrations on asteroids than on Earth. In the future, it is possible that asteroid mining could become a viable industry, providing resources for space exploration and even for use on Earth.


However, the potential danger of asteroid impacts cannot be ignored. While large asteroid impacts are rare, they can have catastrophic effects on our planet. The impact of an asteroid could cause widespread destruction, potentially leading to mass extinction events. Therefore, it is important to study and understand asteroids in order to better predict and prevent potential impacts.


In recent years, there have been efforts to develop technology to deflect or destroy asteroids that pose a threat to Earth. NASA and other space agencies around the world are working on developing methods to redirect asteroids away from Earth, such as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, which aims to test the effectiveness of a kinetic impactor to deflect an asteroid.


World Asteroid Day serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting our planet from potential asteroid impacts and promoting international cooperation in the field of planetary defense. It encourages education and awareness about asteroids and their impact on our world, as well as the potential future use of their resources.


World Asteroid Day 2019 Events


On June 30th of every year, space enthusiasts worldwide celebrate Asteroid Day, an annual event organized by the Asteroid Foundation. This global event is held at various locations around the world, including NASA facilities, planetariums, museums, and universities. The theme of this year's Asteroid Day is the acceleration in the rate of asteroid discoveries, which is set to increase even further in the near future.


This year is an exciting time for asteroid science and exploration as we are on the brink of receiving samples from asteroids Ryugu and Bennu. These samples will provide valuable insights into the early solar system and the history of our universe.


In addition to the asteroid samples, there are also exciting preparations underway for the joint US-Europe mission to binary asteroid Didymos. This mission will provide us with even more information about these fascinating celestial bodies and help us to better understand their role in our solar system.


To celebrate Asteroid Day, there will be panel discussions and one-on-one interviews with astronauts and world experts, covering a range of topics related to asteroid science and exploration. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in this field to learn more and get involved in the exciting world of asteroids.


According to Tom Jones, a veteran astronaut, and planetary scientist, asteroid exploration missions can help us understand the birth of our own planet and how asteroids can serve as stepping stones for astronauts on their way to Mars. The focus of Asteroid Day events in 2019 was on the role of asteroids in the formation of our solar system and advances in technology to better detect, track, and analyze asteroids. It also looked at our ability to deflect a rogue asteroid headed toward Earth.


In Luxembourg, scientists and scholars, astrophysicists and engineers, students, and academics gathered from around 192 countries to participate in Asteroid Day. This is the official United Nations day of awareness and education about asteroids, and it is celebrated for around one week.


Asteroid Day is a program of the Asteroid Foundation, a Luxembourg-based non-profit organization.


This year's World Asteroid Day was particularly special as events took place on five continents. From Europe to Asia, organizations and institutions hosted lectures, activities, and exhibitions to celebrate the impact of asteroids on our understanding of the universe.


In Europe, Luxembourg's Ministry of Education, SpaceResources.lu, and the National Museum of Natural History organized events for World Asteroid Day. The Natural History Museum in Vienna showcased the world's largest meteorite collection, while Greece's new Hellenic Meteorite Museum hosted a variety of events.


North America also had its share of World Asteroid Day events, with the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, hosting events. Science centers, universities, and astronomy clubs throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico also joined in the celebrations.


In Africa, Mozambique hosted a special presentation about asteroids on National TV (TVM) in coordination with the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The Scientific Society of Astronomy and Space in Egypt also hosted an event called "Asteroids and Safety of The Earth" at the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics in Cairo.


In South America, groups of astronomical enthusiasts known as Mochileros Astronomicos traveled across the country to teach about astronomy in schools, planetariums, and communities. The events also celebrated 100 years of the International Astronomical Union.


Finally, in Asia, lectures and activities were hosted by the Kazakhstan Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute in Almaty, and events were also organized at the Givatayim Observatory, Netanya Planetarium, and the Yarqa Space Center in Israel.


World Asteroid Day Significance


One of the most intriguing subjects in space exploration is asteroids - small celestial bodies that can range in size from tiny pebbles to massive objects several kilometers in diameter. While asteroids can provide valuable resources for future space exploration and colonization, they also pose a significant threat to our planet. This is where the significance of World Asteroid Day lies.


The primary focus of World Asteroid Day is to educate people about the potential dangers that asteroids pose to our planet. Although smaller asteroids tend to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere, larger asteroids can cause catastrophic damage if they impact the Earth. In fact, scientists estimate that an asteroid impact similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs could happen again in the future. By raising awareness about this risk, we can take steps to protect our planet and ensure a safer future.


Asteroids also offer a wealth of resources that could be used for future space exploration and colonization. They contain water, minerals, and other materials that could be used to support human life and industry in space. By studying asteroids and understanding their properties, we can better prepare for future space missions and find ways to utilize their resources.


In addition to education, World Asteroid Day also focuses on asteroid detection and prevention measures. Several programs are in place to monitor and track asteroids, such as the NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Planetary Defense Office. These programs work to identify asteroids that may be on a collision course with Earth and to develop plans to prevent or mitigate the potential impact.


One such plan is the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission, which is a joint effort between ESA and NASA. The AIDA mission aims to test the effectiveness of a kinetic impactor spacecraft, which would be used to deflect an asteroid off its collision course with Earth. By developing and testing these technologies, we can increase our chances of preventing a catastrophic impact event.


World Asteroid Day serves as an important reminder of the potential dangers that asteroids pose to our planet, as well as the opportunities that asteroids provide for future exploration and resource utilization. By raising awareness about asteroids and the measures we can take to protect our planet, we can work towards a safer and more secure future.

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