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Early Asteroid Impact Detection: Defending the Planet One Asteroid at a Time - Livestream

In honor of Asteroid Day, we are pleased to present a special virtual talk on asteroids, and more specifically, on Planetary Defense.

Could an asteroid strike our planet in the future? Astronomers think so since thousands of near-earth asteroids (NEAs) cross our planet’s path. However, the good news is that an asteroid impact is a preventable large-scale disaster. NASA has recently opened a Planetary Defense Coordination Office to manage its ongoing mission of so-called “Planetary Defense.” One of the programs is to find, track, and characterize at least 90 percent of the predicted number of NEAs that are at least 140 meters -- bigger than a small football stadium -- and characterize a subset of them, so we develop projects to deflect them if needed.

How are NEAs found and tracked? What are the expected NEA close approaches? 

We invited two researchers closely involved in the early detection program for Planetary Defense to discuss the way astronomers search characterize them:

  • Larry Denneau, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii, is a co-PI of ATLAS, an asteroid impact early warning system which consists of two telescopes, 100 miles apart, which automatically scan the whole sky several times every night looking for moving objects. 
  • Amy Mainzer, professor at the University of Arizona, will tell us how space-based infrared telescopes like NEOWISE and the planned Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission (NEOSM), are designed to survey the Solar System for potentially hazardous asteroids.

These astronomers will describe these instruments, the challenge of funding, building, operating them and, of course, the difficulty of processing such a large amount of data to make great discoveries. They will also discuss how this tedious work could one day save us from a catastrophic event for our civilization.

Register at weblink to obtain connection information.

Wednesday, 06/17/20


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SETI Institute

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