Astronomers, astronauts and other near-Earth object experts from around the world are gathering next week in Luxembourg to talk about asteroids. If you tune in to the Asteroid Foundation’s live event on International Asteroid Day (which is June 30), you can hear about the latest in space rock research. The four hour event will consist of panel discussions on future missions, advances in technology, how scientists track and discover asteroids and what resources might be gleaned from asteroids. It will be moderated by Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project, the astronomer Phil Plait, Asteroid Day’s editorial director Stuart Clark and Patrick Michel, director of research at CNRS of the Côte d’Azur Observatory.
“Asteroid Day reminds the world of just how important these celestial objects are. They hold the keys to understanding the formation of the Solar System, provide stepping stones we will utilize to explore our solar system, and occasionally they hit our planet,” said Dr Dorin Prunariu, Vice-Chair of the Asteroid Foundation in a press release. The Asteroid Day event will also feature pre-recorded interviews from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, which is currently on its to Earth after collecting samples from the asteroid Bennu.
Detecting asteroids is a tricky science, and scientists still manage to that are potentially dangerous. NASA has detected nearly 16,000 near-Earth objects, which are objects within approximately 45 million kilometers of our planet’s orbit. As notes, while extinction-level asteroids are very rare, smaller space rocks such as the one that hit Tunguska, Siberia in 1908 or the 10,000-ton space rock that hit the Russian city of Chelyabinsk are also capable of doing damage. And there have been plenty of near misses. Scientists that in 2029, a 1,120 feet asteroid known as Apophis will miss Earth by a mere 19,000 miles.