At a press conference on December 3rd held jointly in London and San Francisco, experts in science, physics and planetary defense, led by astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Brian May, declared that next June 30th be named Asteroid Day 2015.
Brian May is an astrophysicist and asteroid expert? Where have you been? The Rock and Roll hall of fame member studied physics and mathematics at Imperial College London, graduating with a BSc degree and ARCS in physics. He studied zodiacal dust (sounds like the perfect field for a rocker) and returned to the college in 2007 to complete his doctoral work. So why is Dr. May so worried about little asteroids?
We are in more danger than has been previously realized. In fact it might be said that we are on borrowed time because out of the million or so estimated potential impacting asteroids of sufficient size to cause major destruction on Earth we are probably aware of only 10,000 - about 1 per cent.
June 30th is the anniversary of the 1908 meteor strike in Tunguska, Siberia, when a 50-meter-diameter meteor destroyed 800 square miles of forest land, the area of a small city. Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees, Bill Nye the Science Guy, former astronauts Rusty Schweickart, Ed Lu, and Tom Jones and other Asteroid Day proponents want governments and space agencies to track smaller space objects, noting that the Chelyabinsk meteorite which injured 1,600 people in Russia in February 2013 was only 20 meters in diameter.
Lord Rees points out this isn't a new problem.
The ancients were correct in their belief that the heavens and the motion of astronomical bodies affect life on Earth, just not in the way they imagined. Sometimes those heavenly bodies run into Earth. This is why we must make it our mission to find asteroids before they find us.
Astronaut Ed Lu says it’s our duty to do something.
A hundred years ago, if we got hit by an asteroid, that was just bad luck. We’ve now reached a point where if we get hit by a major asteroid it’s not bad luck, it’s bad planning, or worse, stupidity.
We’ve never let stupidity get in our way, have we? That’s why the group is looking for alternatives besides nuking oncoming meteors. Any suggestions?
For more info, check out Asteroid Day 2015 and support Brian May’s quest to make us champions over asteroids.