What began as a passion of a handful of individuals, a musician, filmmaker, technologist, scientist and astronaut, has become a global movement by thousands to increase awareness and education about asteroids. Supported by 22 global partners, scores of international agencies, 72 space travelers from 12 nations, leaders in business and finance, parents and youth, Asteroid Day 2016 will include hundreds of events on and around June 30, 2016.
“Our goal is to dedicate one day each year to learn about asteroids, the origins of our universe, and to support the resources necessary to see, track and deflect dangerous asteroids from Earth’s orbital path,” explains Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist, guitarist and songwriter for QUEEN who co-founded Asteroid Day. “Asteroids are a natural disaster we know how to prevent.”
This is the premise of Asteroid Day. Asteroid Day is held on the anniversary of the largest asteroid impact of Earth in recorded history. On June 30, 1908, a relatively small asteroid (40 meters) exploded over Tunguska, Siberia, releasing the equivalent of 100 tons of TNT, devastating an area of about 800 square miles, the size of any major metropolitan city.
Events for Asteroid Day will be held on all five continents and include films, concerts, interactive workshops and expert panels with engineers, scientists and astronauts and special programs for youth.
San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences will host a day program for youth, followed by an evening program for adults, with screening of their newest planetarium show, Incoming!, exploring asteroids, comets, and the hard-hitting stories of our cosmic.
New Film Series
Asteroid Day Co-founder Grig Richters will debut a seven-part film series, with an introduction by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium. The series celebrates the work of asteroid experts, scientists, astronauts, and policymakers, with interviews with Mark Boslough, Stephen Hawking, Ed Lu, Bill Nye, Patrick Michel, Lynne Jones, Lord Martin Rees, Rusty Schweickart, and Carolyn Shoemaker.
It also highlights upcoming missions to search for and study near-Earth asteroids: Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission, a joint project of ESA and NASA; OSIRIS-REx, NEOCam and Hayabusa2.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is a premiere partner of Asteroid Day. ESA asteroid specialists will be participating at public events in Barcelona, Munich and Heidelberg, sharing details of the European component of AIDA, as well as ESA’s Space Situational Awareness program.
“This program looks at Near Earth Objects, logging any that might one day pose an impact threat to our planet,” comments ESA Director-General Jan Woerner. “We are also proposing to start the Asteroid Impact Mission, to perform a close-up survey of a tiny asteroid while at the same time the NASA DART spacecraft will crashes into it, attempting to shift its orbit.”
Asteroid Day media partner, Discovery Science, the only global network dedicated entirely to the wonders of science, will launch “Countdown to Asteroid Day” a special programming block beginning 20th June, to be aired globally in the lead up to June 30 events.
On Asteroid Day, Discovery Science will dedicate the entire day to asteroid programming, leading with two one-hour premiere titles: Man Vs. Asteroid: An Asteroid Day Special, and The Man Who Tweeted Earth, a profile of Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield. Discovery Science reaches 72 million US households and 97 million households internationally across 159 countries and territories.
Founding partners of Asteroid Day include: The Association of Space Explorers, B612, California Academy of Sciences, The Planetary Society, Natural History Museum of Vienna, and Starmus, which all will be hosting events in 2016.
Professor Stephen Hawking, who will participate in the Starmus Festival, an Asteroid Day event, states that “One of the major threats to intelligent life in our universe is a high probability of an asteroid colliding with inhabitable planets.”