The Aerospace Corporation to Chair AIAA's First Planetary Defense Conference: Protecting Earth From Asteroids

Press Release From: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Posted: Monday, December 16, 2002

In view of a realistic threat from Near Earth Objects (comets and asteroids), The Aerospace Corporation has joined with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics to address technical and policy issues relative to the defense of Planet Earth. A new forum, slated for February 2004: AIAA's 1st Planetary Defense Conference: Protecting Earth From Asteroids, will approach the threat from the perspective of three levels of warnings: 1) Short term (less than 10 years warning of possible impact); 2) Medium term (10 to 30 years warning); and 3) Long term (more than 30 years warning), with an overarching intent to define several possible threat scenarios and develop potential responses for each.

Focused conference topics will:

  • Examine current and future detection capabilities and options
  • Consider current and future techniques, hardware and systems available to mitigate threats
  • Discuss national and international policy implications of mounting a planetary defense effort
  • Develop recommendations for future work, strategies, and policies
  • Develop recommendations for demonstrations/experiments/near-term activities
  • Discuss public safety and disaster preparedness implications of possible asteroid or comet impacts

Dr. William Ailor of The Aerospace Corporation is General Chairman of the conference.

A Call for Papers is currently being issued, which will solicit studies on (1) the physical characteristics of the threat population (type, size, shape, velocity, trajectory, direction, frequency); (2) threat detection and warning (detection capabilities and methods, probability of collision with Earth, action thresholds); (3) mitigation techniques and scenarios (capabilities for diverting away from Earth -- imminent vs. long-term threat objects); (4) disaster preparedness (impact scenarios and consequences, public notification and coordination); (5) policy and planning (political, policy, regulatory and planning issues related to planetary defense, and minimum level of ongoing research to maintain readiness).

For the complete Call for Papers and more information, visit the AIAA Web site at

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