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Sensitization to the risk of space rock



Happy International Asteroid Day! On Saturday (June 30), researchers from around the world gather to discuss the dangers asteroids pose to planet Earth – and what we can do to alleviate this threat.

Institutions around the world host events to draw attention to asteroids. You can find events near you on the asteroid day page, or watch live discussions and other asteroid-related programs from the comfort of your own home during a 48-hour webcast. Listen live to the asteroid day live on Space.com or on the Asteroid Day home page.

While we probably do not have to worry about another huge asteroid as the dinosaurs will dump it in the foreseeable future, asteroids are still a threat, NASA and other space agencies have said. [Gallery: Potentially Dangerous Asteroids]

A much smaller asteroid that exploded in Chelyabinsk in 201

3 injured more than 1,200 people, and shockwaves damaged buildings up to 93 kilometers from the blast. In April, an asteroid twice as large – and about the size of the Tunguska asteroid responsible for the worst impact in recorded history – made an unusually close flyby of Earth.

NASA estimates that there are about 10 million space near-earth objects (NEOs) that hit Chelyabinsk, but these small NEOs are more difficult to detect before they enter the Earth's atmosphere, NASA officials said Press Conference on White House National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan released on June 20th.

Fortunately, NASA estimates that more than 95 percent of all asteroids are large enough to trigger a global catastrophe, and none of them is a threat. Astronomers, however, believe that they have found only one third of all space rocks near Earth that are at least 460 feet (140 meters) wide, which is large enough to destroy an entire state, NASA officials said.

"The asteroid day events will address both science and government and private sector initiatives to study asteroids and, in particular, advanced efforts to develop greater detection, tracking and diversion techniques," it said in a statement of Asteroid Day.

To kick off the annual activities of the Asteroid Day, British physicist and BBC commentator Brian Cox hosted a preview program on Friday morning (June 29) featuring celebrities such as Bill Nye ("The Science Guy"), the former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

Asteroids are fascinating for many reasons. They contain a multitude of precious resources and strike our planet regularly, occasionally extinguishing most of the Earth's life forms. How much do you know about space rock?

  Earth causes asteroid quakes

0 out of 10 complete questions

The European Space Agency (ESA) also participated in the event on Friday with a 90-minute "infotainment" event the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany.

Part of the event was a discussion on the flaws of 1998's Armageddon film, in which a motley crew of oil drills travel to a Texas-sized asteroid screaming to the ground. They drilled a deep hole in the space rock and planted a nuclear bomb, broke the asteroid, and saved civilization.

As you can see in the short description, there are many mistakes in "Armageddon". For starters, there is the absurdity of sending people who do this dangerous space work. And, as many people have pointed out, no nuclear bomb ever invented is so powerful that it could destroy a Texas-sized space rock.

ESA flight dynamics engineer Rainer Kresken took up several other topics during the Friday event in Germany. For example, in real life, the heroic oil drills could not get close to this huge asteroid, which would be accelerated to massive speeds by the gravity of our planet.

"If such an object, whatever it is, approaches Earth closer [than] the moon, it's much faster than you can reach it with a space shuttle or an existing 'vehicle,' said Kresken.

51º North Trailer Version 2 by Films United on Vimeo

If you stay up late (or get up early, depending on where you are), you can attend a special screening of Science Fiction movie "51 Degrees North" on Asteroid Day live stream from 2:10 pm EDT (0610 GMT). In the film, a group of asteroids head straight for Earth, and the world has only three weeks to prepare.

And if the movie gets you worried about the looming calamity of the earth, the next program – a 50-minute Discovery Channel Special titled "How to survive an asteroid strike" – can help calm your nerves.

The rest of the day includes live events featuring NASA scientists, the European Space Agency, the European Southern Observatory and more. You can find the complete schedule here.

Email Hanneke Wegering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience . Follow us @Spacedotcom Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.


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