International Asteroid Day 2020: History, significance and importance of this day

James Marshall
July 1, 2020

It is an UN-approved awareness day observed every year on the 30th of June since 2016.

Two space missions - Japan's Hayabusa 2 and NASA's OSIRIS-REx - are in the midst of gathering samples from asteroids and returning them to Earth for analysis.

In December 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in order to "observe each year, at the worldwide level, the anniversary of the Tunguska impact over Siberia, on 30 June 1908, and to raise public awareness about the asteroid impact hazard".

June 30 is the anniversary of the famous Tunguska impact.

The Tunguska asteroid event on 30 June 1908, was the Earth's largest asteroid impact in recorded history.

Near-Earth objects (NEOs) are asteroids and comets that orbit the Sun, but their orbits bring them into Earth's neighbourhood - within 30 million miles of Earth's orbit.

This year all the celebration related to World Asteroid Day will be conducted virtually due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

"Asteroid exploration missions tell us about the birth of our own planet and reveal how asteroids can serve astronauts as stepping stones to Mars", planetary scientists and former NASA astronaut Tom Jones, an Asteroid Day panel member, said in a statement. Specifically, to raise awareness about the scientific efforts where organizations are discovering and tracking asteroids, and also developing means of planetary defence.

"Sooner or later disasters such as an asteroid collision or a nuclear war could wipe us all out, but once we spread out into space and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe".

When it comes to asteroid science, not every frontier is in space: A new telescope facility known as the Vera C. Rubin Observatory (formerly known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) is taking shape in Chile, and it's expected to identify a torrent of near-Earth asteroids after beginning science operations in 2022.

"We really need an internationally agreed and coordinated strategy for the development of asteroid litigation technology and very importantly the implementation of procedures for an emergency deflection scenario". "It has to cross Earth's path when the Earth is right there".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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