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Association of Space Explorers Workshop on NEO Deflection Policy

Category: Law and Policy

Date: 9-12 May 2007

Location: International Space University, Strasbourg, FR

The Association of Space Explorers (ASE) is pleased to announce the first of its series of International Workshops on NEO Deflection Policy. The first of this series of four workshops will be held at the International Space University (ISU) in Strasbourg, France from 9-12 May, 2007. The workshops will culminate in the presentation of a draft United Nations Protocol on NEO Deflection to the UNís Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in the spring of 2009.

During its 2005 Planetary Congress the ASE considered the problem of near-Earth objects (NEOs) impacting the planet and causing extreme devastation. While the frequency of such destructive events is very low (approximately 1 per 1000 years) the blast resulting from these impacts can range from tens to millions of megatons of TNT equivalent. At their most destructive, asteroid impacts have caused mass extinctions, e.g. the Chicxulub impact 65 million years ago which caused the extinction of dinosaurs and 75% of all species.

To call the attention of world leaders and institutions to the need for action on this issue the ASE unanimously adopted and distributed to world leaders an open letter on the subject. It also formed the ASE-NEO Committee to work with the United Nations, national governments and other institutions to facilitate actions to protect the Earth from potential NEO impacts.

With present technology humankind will be able to provide decades of warning for an impending impact. This NEO search process is now underway and will result in significant early warning for 90% of the threat in the next 15 years.

Current space technology also provides the capability to prevent a significant number of these potential impacts, but must be demonstrated to assure the public of its effectiveness. Additional technical developments available within the next 10-15 years can, if pursued, provide essentially full protection from NEO impacts.

The third essential measure in protecting the Earth from NEO impacts is an internationally sanctioned decision process to facilitate necessary and timely action once a specific threat is discovered. Since all nations are at risk, and in the process of deflecting an asteroid localized (national) risks will change, the United Nations must put a decision process in place as soon as possible.

The ASE will therefore bring together a distinguished team of diplomatic, legal, financial and space experts from around the world to consider the many challenging issues involved in such a decision process. Their deliberations will form the basis for the draft Protocol to be delivered to the UN.

For further information on the ASE, the ASE-NEO Committee and their work on this topic please see http://www.space-explorers.org/committees/NEO/neo.html, or contact Mr. Andy Turnage, ASE Executive Director at andy@space-explorers.org.

Web Site Address: http://www.space-explorers.org/committees/NEO/neo.html

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