World Asteroid Day 2020: Important date, History, Asteroid Day Special quotes

World Asteroid Day 2020: World Asteroid Day is celebrated on June 30 to create awareness about the impacts of asteroids. The annual global event is observed on the anniversary of the Siberian Tunguska event. Get the information about the Asteroid Day history, details about asteroids, and special quotes in this article.

Updated: Jun 11, 2020 12:55 IST

World Asteroid Day 2020: Important date, History, Asteroid Day Special quotes

Roselet Sheena Merli

World Asteroid Day 2020

The World Asteroid Day is observed worldwide on June 30 to raise awareness about the asteroids and its hazardous impacts. And furthermost important thing is to educate the people around the world about the crisis communication actions that should be taken in the case of Near-Earth objects (NEO). Near-Earth objects include asteroids, comets, meteoroids, which cause fatal threats to Earth. According to the NASA reports, till now, 16,000 Near-Earth objects have been discovered.

What is the history of World Asteroids Day?

World Asteroids Day is celebrated in the remembrance of the Tunguska impact over Siberia, Russia which happened on June 30, 1908. It was the Earth's largest asteroid impact ever recorded so far. In December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted resolution A/RES/71/90 and designated June 30 as World Asteroid Day to mark the anniversary of the Tunguska event. 

Asteroids Day was co-founded by astrophysicist and guitarist Dr. Brian May, Danica Remy, B612 President, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart and filmmaker Grig Richters in 2014. Then, in 2016, a proposal was made by the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) which was endorsed by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Based on the proposal, the United Nations declared World Asteroids Day on June 30 with the main objective to raise awareness on a global level about the asteroid impact hazard.

What is Tunguska Impact?

An enormous explosion occurred in the atmosphere above the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, Russia on June 30, 1908. The estimated energy of the explosion is equivalent to the explosive force of 15 megatons of TNT which is a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. 

Around 2,000 kilometers, forest areas were destroyed which flattened about 80 million trees. It is believed that the cause of the explosion was by incoming asteroids. Hence, the Tunguska event is considered as the largest asteroid impact on the Earth in recorded history.

What are Asteroids?

Asteroids are small rocky bodies that orbit around the sun. Most of the asteroids found in the asteroid belt which is nothing but the region between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are leftover materials from the formation of the solar system.

The size of some asteroids can be hundreds of miles in diameter but many asteroids are as small as pebbles. Largest asteroids are in a spherical shape and mostly like a miniature planet but the majority of the asteroids are in irregular shapes. There are several hundred thousand asteroids existing in the solar system which are not yet discovered. Based on the composition, asteroids are classified into three groups namely:

  • C-type asteroids

  • S-type asteroids

  • M-type asteroids

Recent news about asteroids

The biggest asteroids that passed relatively close to Earth on April 29, 2020. Asteroid (52768) 1998 OR2 passed at a distance of  4 million miles (6 million km), which is about 16 times the Earth-moon distance. Astronomers at Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory observed the asteroid beginning on April 8, as it flew 19,461 miles per hour through space. In addition, the size of the asteroid is 140 meters and mostly spherical. The Center for Near-Earth Objects defines the Asteroid 1998 OR2  as a potentially hazardous asteroid.

What is NASA’s DART Mission?

DART - Double Asteroid Redirection Test  

DART mission is a planned space probe that will demonstrate the kinetic effects of crashing an impactor spacecraft into an asteroid moon for planetary defense purposes. The mission is headed by the US Space Agency, NASA. The mission is to stop asteroids hitting Earth

DART Planetary-Defense Mission:

The DART planetary-defence mission will be launched by the Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in June 2021. The spacecraft will slam into "Didymoon," the 540-foot-wide (165 meters) satellite of the near-Earth asteroid Didymos which is located at about 4 million miles from Earth, in October 2022. 

Recently, the Asteroid researchers and spacecraft engineers have proposed the Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA) which is a viable method of planetary defence. According to the technique, one spacecraft will be sent to hit an asteroid and another will be sent out to observe and gather data from the crash site. Apart from SpaceX, the European space agency (ESA) has partnered with NASA. 

DART will be accompanied by an Italian-made miniature CubeSat called LICIACube. This will travel alongside to capture the moment of impact. On the other hand, ESA's HERA will perform a detailed measurement of the asteroid's size and the crater shape. By this study, the researchers can figure out whether the technique can be used against a real threat. 

Interesting Facts about Asteroids

  • Ceres was the first asteroid which was discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801

  • The word asteroid is first coined by Astronomer William Herschel in 1802 which means ‘Star-like’

  • Based on the theories asteroids are planetesimals which is the building blocks of planets that never come under as one of the eight planets in our solar system

  •  According to scientists, 65 million years ago, the impacts of asteroids caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and affected all life on Earth

  • Currently, more than 600,000 asteroids are discovered in the solar system

  • Asteroids are rich in metals and water

  • Some asteroids have own moon

World Asteroids Day Quotes:

“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” - Stephen Hawking

“Now for the first time in our history, we are at a level of technological capability to, maybe, detected and do something about the threat from asteroids.” - Chris Hadfield

“We should really care about asteroids because there are too many out there!” - Pedro Duque 

“Asteroid Day has two main goals, to get people to realize, number one: the issue of asteroids hitting the earth is important, and number two: that we, using our brains, using science and technology, can change that.” - Ed Lu

World Asteroids Day - FAQ

1. What is the name of the largest asteroid found so far?

The largest asteroid is called Ceres. This is around one-quarter the size of the moon and orbits the sun in a region called the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres is spherical in shape compared to the other asteroids.

2. What is the average size of an asteroid?

Most of this ancient space debris can be found in the main asteroid belt orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids vary in size from Vesta - the largest at around 329 miles (530 km) in diameter - to bodies that are smaller than 33 feet (10 m) wide.

3. Where are the most asteroids found?

The vast majority of cataloged asteroids are in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter orbits; however, not all asteroids are in the asteroid belt. Two sets of asteroids, named Trojan asteroids, share the 12-year orbit of Jupiter around the Sun.

4. What is a Near-Earth Object?

Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are comets and asteroids nudged into orbits by the gravitational pull of surrounding planets causing them to reach the neighborhood of Earth.

5. Why do asteroids burn up?

If a meteoroid (small asteroid) comes into the atmosphere, the air in front of it is compressed. The compression heats up the air, which heats the object in effect, causing it to glow and vaporize. Then it starts to glow which is called a meteor.

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