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Asteroid Day 2016 Under Way

Press Release From: Asteroid Day
Posted: Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Asteroid Day, a global movement supporting increased awareness and education of asteroids, announced its plans for 2016, in a press conference live from ESA ESTEC and live streamed to the world -- with messages from every continent on the globe and a special message from outer space.

Participants included co-founders Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and co-founder of the rock band Queen, and filmmaker Grigorij Richters; ESA Director Franco Ongaro and AIM Mission Manager Ian Carnelli; Astronauts Dr. Tom Jones, Dorin Prunariu, Dr. Ed Lu, Col. Chris Hadfield, Rakesh Sharma, Soyeon Yi, Anousheh Ansari, Helen Sharman; Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt; Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye; British Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees; Astronomer Dr. Amanda Sickafoose, of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO); media partner Discovery Science; and world-renowned scientists and asteroid experts.

Asteroid Day is held on June 30 -- the anniversary of the largest asteroid impact of Earth in recorded history, at Tunguska, Siberia in 1908. The first Asteroid Day was launched in 2015, and attracted more than 150 events worldwide, attended by tens of thousands of scientists, academics and public citizens, with media coverage exceeding 4 billion impressions. Events are independently organized by museums, research institutes, government agencies, universities, astronomers, filmmakers, and concerned citizens.

Dr. Brian May: I became acutely aware of the risk to all creatures on Earth from asteroid impacts, while watching Grig Richters’ film “51 Degrees North.” This is an important issue in the back of the minds of all astronomers, but only recently could the probabilities and effects be quantified. And only recently has it become within the capability of Humanity to begin to plan ways to prevent such catastrophes. While making the music for the film, I got to know Grig, and we talked in depth about the possibility of bringing together the resources of the whole world to focus on asteroid impacts. The concept of Asteroid Day was formed, with the hope that we could bring about a massive leap in global awareness of this problem -- a problem that may now have a solution.

Ian Carnelli, Head of Asteroid Impact Mission, ESA: “ESA has been studying the role of space missions to address the asteroid hazard over the last 15 years. Today we have the technology to change the path of an asteroid, but we need to test our technology in space and learn if our models are correct by measuring all the relevant parameters.”

Lord Martin Rees: “The value of Asteroid Day is that it’s a way of raising public awareness and therefore putting this issue higher on the agenda so that when politicians and others in a position to deploy funds for scientific missions make their decisions, they are aware there is a serious case for doing more than is now being done to remove the asteroid risk, survey the sky for asteroids that could have orbits that cross the Earth, and explore technology that can be used to deflect one on a path to impact Earth.”

Dr. Tom Jones: “The Association of Space Explorers continues to promote international cooperation in confronting the risks of a future asteroid impact on Earth. Our association of astronauts and cosmonauts is excited about supporting Asteroid Day 2016, appearing at Asteroid Day events around the globe and sharing our belief that space technology can find rogue asteroids and prevent a future damaging impact on our planet. We believe that stopping future asteroid collisions will be the most important benefit of 21st century space exploration.”

Executive Director and co-founder of Asteroid Day Grig Richters announced the six premiere events for 2016, and recognized Asteroid Day partners.

June 30 Premiere Events

Barcelona, Spain: ICE (Spanish National Research Council)
http://www.ice.cat/en/view_event.php?ap=4&event=1&EID=965

Tenerife, Spain: Starmus Festival
http://www.starmus.com/

San Francisco, CA: California Academy of Sciences/B612
https://www.calacademy.org/

Vienna Austria: Natural History Museum
http://www.nhm-wien.ac.at/jart/prj3/nhm/main.jart?rel=de&content-id=1278490683856&detail_mp=yes&tid=1453834764869

Seoul, South Korea: Gwacheon National Science Museum
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=1215685

Asteroid Day Partners

Association of Space Explorers; Asteroid Impact Mission; Astronomers Without Borders; Astronomy Magazine; Astronomy Now Magazine; B612; California Academy of Sciences; Discovery Science; European Space Agency (ESA); Films United; Natural History Museum of Vienna; NEOShield-2; The Côte d’Azur Observatory; Romanian Space Agency; Royal Astronomical Society; The Planetary Society; Seattle Museum of Flight; Space Foundation; Starmus; Universe Awareness.

“Starmus has promoted and supported the launch of Asteroid Day from the start, which is why the edition’s celebrated honoree, Professor Stephen Hawking said: “This year Asteroid Day coincides with the staging of the Starmus Festival, a unique debating forum for the future of humanity. Among the events planned at Starmus, we will also commemorate Asteroid Day.”

Astronaut Chris Hadfield: “I’m an adventurer, explorer and astronaut, who has flown to space three times and been around this precious world of ours 2650 times. So, naturally with that point of view, I am a supporter of Asteroid Day. For the first time, we are at a level of technology capability to detect and do something about the threat of asteroids. The threat is low, but the results can be extremely high.”

Dr. Ed Lu, three-time astronaut and CEO of B612 who co-invented the Gravity Tractor, a proposed technique for asteroid deflection. “In the near future, when our asteroid tracking telescopes allow us to know far in advance of an impending asteroid impact on Earth, we will then be able to the nudge that asteroid out of Earth’s way. The ESA & NASA proposed AIDA mission will be a great step forward in testing this technology. And ESA joining Asteroid Da
y as a partner is a welcome addition in helping educate the world about asteroids and our future.”

About the European Space Agency (ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA is an international organization with 22 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programs and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC) is the technical heart -- the incubator of the European space effort where most ESA projects are born and guided through the various phases of development.

The Press Conference is being presented live, live-streamed, and will be archived at http://esa.int/asteroidday and http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/Asteroid_day/Watch_Asteroid_Day_2016_press_conference

Contacts:
Diane Murphy
pr@asteroidday.org
+1 310 658 8756, +44 (0)78 1883 0551

Ninja Menning
estecpr@esa.int
+31 715 656 409

Photos:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/asteroidday/albums/with/72157663909624126

Archived Press Conference:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udtvQqjuHJg

Pre-Recorded video messages (for download):
https://vimeo.com/asteroidday/videos

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