Defending Earth: The International Effort to Protect Us from Asteroids and Comets
Day: Tuesday 20 September
Time: 13:45 - 14:45 CEST
Location: Room Paris South, Level 3, Hall 7, Paris Convention Centre
For billions of years, asteroids have pummeled Earth. The 2013 Chelyabinsk Meteor was only 20-m across, but its high-altitude explosion unleashed the equivalent energy of 30 Hiroshima bombs and resulted in greater than 1,000 injuries. Even larger asteroids would have more catastrophic consequences.
What are we doing to detect and prevent a potential disaster caused by an asteroid impact? To date, only about 0.4% of the ~5 million asteroids larger than the 20-m Chelyabinsk asteroid have been detected. NASA’s upcoming Near-Earth Object Surveyor Mission will accelerate the search for potentially hazardous asteroids, thus allowing us to identify the threats.
But detection is only part of the equation. What happens when we identify an Earth-bound asteroid, and how do we protect ourselves? For the first time, humanity is testing a planetary defense mitigation method: a kinetic impactor. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is the world’s first demonstration in a series of planetary defense missions. Launched in November 2021, DART will intentionally slam into an asteroid just one week after the IAC, on September 26, 2022. Later in the decade, ESA’s Hera mission will visit the DART impact target to further characterize the effects of the DART experiment. Together, these two missions will provide the necessary data to design an operational planetary defense spacecraft should the need ever arise.
Our panel assembles a diverse, international group including NASA and ESA leadership, technical experts, and a science communicator to discuss the science behind the asteroid threat, the engineering behind the spacecraft designed to understand these dangers, and our roadmap for safeguarding our planet and way of life. This very timely Plenary Event will feature stunning visuals and gripping storytelling within an engaging and informative atmosphere, and culminating in one of the most memorable experiences of the entire Congress.
Hera Mission Principal Investigator, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)