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International Asteroid Day 2020: What’s So Special about the Day? Know the History & Importance

Aiswarya R Nair
Aiswarya R Nair

International Asteroid Day, June 30: In December 2016, the United Nations declared June 30th as the ‘International Asteroid Day’ in order to observe each year at the international level the anniversary of the Tunguska impact over Siberia, Russian Federation on 30 June 1908, and to raise awareness regarding the asteroid impact hazard.

International Asteroid Day aims to raise public awareness about the asteroid impact hazard and to inform the public about the crisis communication actions to be taken at the global level in case of a credible near-Earth object threat.

Backdrop

According to the UN reports, the Tunguska asteroid event in Siberia, Russian Federation, on 30 June 1908, was the Earth's largest asteroid impact in recorded history. On 15 February 2013, a large fireball, technically, called a "superbolide", travelling at a velocity of 18.6 kilometres per second, entered the atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk.

According to NASA, the approximate effective diameter of the asteroid was estimated at 18 meters and its mass at 11,000 tons. The approximate total impact energy of the Chelyabinsk Fireball, in kilotons of TNT explosives (the energy parameter usually quoted for a fireball), was 440 kilotons. The Chelyabinsk event was an extraordinarily large fireball, the most energetic impact event recognized since the 1908 Tunguska blast in Russian Siberia.

Tom Jones, Ph.D., veteran astronaut and planetary scientist, and Asteroid Day Expert Panel member, said: ‘Asteroid exploration missions tell us about the birth of our own planet and reveal how asteroids can serve astronauts as stepping stones to Mars.’

Programmes on International Asteroid Day

Experts will talk on how people can use asteroid's resources, how they can pave the way for future exploration. They will also talk on how people can protect the planet from asteroid impacts. The program will be run by the Asteroid Foundation, a Luxembourg nonprofit organisation.

A five-hour digital program will be held with panel discussions, one-on-one interviews with astronauts and experts on June 30, 2020. Topics of discussion this year include the acceleration in the rate of our asteroid discoveries and why it is set to accelerate even faster, the imminent arrival of samples from asteroid Ryugu and Bennu, the exciting preparations for the joint US-Europe mission to binary asteroid Didymos, and much more.

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