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Invitation to a Planetary Society Press Conference: Planetary Society Offers $50,000 Prize for Asteroid Tagging Designs

Press Release From: Planetary Society
Posted: Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Planetary Society
65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106-2301 (626) 793-5100 Fax (626) 793-5528BR> E-mail: tps@planetary.org  Web: http://planetary.org

December 12, 2006

Planetary Society Offers $50,000 Prize for Asteroid Tagging Designs

Subject: At tomorrow's American Geophysical Union fall meeting,The Planetary Society will launch their Apophis Mission Design Competition, which invites participants to submit designs for a mission to rendezvous with and "tag" a potentially dangerous near-Earth asteroid.

When: Wednesday, December 13, 2006, 2:00 PM

Where: American Geophysical Union meeting at the Moscone Convention Center South

Address: Moscone Convention Center South, Room 232, 800 and 747 Howard Street, San Francisco, California

Speaker: Bruce Betts,  Director of Projects of The Planetary Society

Background: Apophis is a near-Earth object (NEO), which will come closer to Earth in 2029 than the orbit of our geostationary satellites.  On that pass, the asteroid will be gravitationally perturbed to an unknown orbit, one that that may have the slim possibility of hitting Earth in 2036.   Very precise tracking may be needed to determine the probability of such a collision. Such precise tracking may require "tagging" the asteroid, perhaps with a beacon -- a transponder or reflector -- or some other method.  Exactly how an asteroid could best be tagged is not yet known, nor is it obvious, which is why The Planetary Society is holding a competition.

More Information: Susan Lendroth, 626-793-5100 ext 237, susan.lendroth@planetary.org

Website: http://planetary.org/apophis

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