International Asteroid Day is an annual global event that is held on June 30, the anniversary of the Tunguska event in 1908 when a meteor air burst levelled about 2,150 km2 of forest in Siberia, Russia.
Why International Asteroid Day?
- In December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution A/RES/71/90, designating June 30th as International Asteroid Day.
- This special day was established to commemorate the anniversary of the Tunguska impact that occurred in Siberia, Russia on June 30, 1908.
- Its main purpose is to raise awareness among the public about the potential dangers of asteroid impacts and to educate people about the global crisis communication measures that would be taken in the event of a credible threat from a near-Earth object.
- The decision to establish International Asteroid Day was based on a proposal put forward by the Association of Space Explorers, which received the endorsement of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).
- The goal of this initiative is to promote public understanding and preparedness regarding the risks associated with asteroids, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in addressing this potential threat.
Near-Earth objects (NEOs) pose significant risks to our planet. These are asteroids or comets that come close to Earth’s orbit.
- NASA’s Center for NEO Studies has identified over 16,000 Near Earth Asteroids.
- The Tunguska asteroid event in Siberia, Russia, on June 30, 1908, was the largest recorded asteroid impact on Earth.
- On February 15, 2013, a large fireball known as a “superbolide” entered the atmosphere and disintegrated over Chelyabinsk, Russia.
- NASA estimated the asteroid’s approximate effective diameter at 18 meters and mass at 11,000 tons.
- The impact energy of the Chelyabinsk Fireball was approximately 440 kilotons, making it an exceptionally powerful event and the most energetic impact since the Tunguska blast in 1908.
- The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has recognized the NEO impact hazard as a global issue requiring an international response.
- Addressing this hazard, including the identification of potentially dangerous objects and planning for mitigation, requires cooperative action from the global community to ensure public safety.
- To facilitate international collaboration, the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) were established in 2014.
- The IAWN assists governments in analyzing the potential consequences of an asteroid impact and supports the planning of mitigation responses using established communication plans and protocols.
- The SMPAG, on the other hand, is an inter-space agency forum that identifies necessary technologies for deflecting NEOs and seeks consensus on recommendations for planetary defense measures.
Significance of International Asteroid Day
The significance of International Asteroid Day is to raise awareness about the asteroid impact hazard and to inspire people to become involved in the effort to detect, track, and deflect asteroids that pose a threat to our planet.
Asteroids are a real and present danger to Earth. In the past, asteroids have caused devastating impacts, such as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
While the chances of a major asteroid impact are relatively low, the consequences would be catastrophic.
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International Asteroid Day – FAQs
What is International Asteroid Day?
International Asteroid Day is an annual global event that is held on June 30, the anniversary of the Tunguska event in 1908 when a meteor air burst levelled about 2,150 km2 (830 sq mi) of forest in Siberia, Russia.
What is the difference between an asteroid and a meteoroid?
Asteroid: A rocky object in space that is larger than 1 meter in diameter.
Meteoroid: A rocky object in space that is smaller than 1 meter in diameter.