Bremen, June 25, 2020. “Asteroids, space debris, and space weather – the threats from space are manifold and, in the worst case, disastrous for life on Earth. I consider Asteroid Day an important platform to promote public awareness on this topic and to bring together bright minds in order to find solutions,” says Marco Fuchs, CEO of OHB SE, with regard to Asteroid Day. OHB is a partner in this event for the fourth time.
The purpose of this UN-acknowledged international day of commemoration on 30 June is to raise public awareness of asteroids and the role they play in our solar system, to highlight the need for asteroid research and the chances it offers, to develop procedures to protect humanity from asteroid impacts and to facilitate future exploration missions.
The real threat posed by the Corona pandemic has forced the organizers to turn Asteroid Day into a solely online event. Via video conferences, Asteroid Day 2020 will once again be bringing together representatives from science, research, technology, space agencies and the general public, providing information about asteroids and explaining the potential dangers they pose with a varied program.
DART & Hera: a duo that wants to write history
“The Hera mission is Europe’s contribution to a joint but staggered ‘planetary defense mission’ with NASA and thus a very specific contribution to the prevention of asteroid impacts. I am proud that OHB is part of this and can help protect our planet from threats from outer space,” explains Marco Fuchs. The dual American-German DART/Hera mission is being prepared and implemented to demonstrate for the first time how asteroids can be diverted from their trajectory. “This is a preliminary but important step, as we owe it to future generations to use and test the technology available to us so that we will be able to act on day X when an asteroid actually sets course for the Earth,” he adds.
German space technology company OHB System AG is the industrial prime contractor for the ESA Hera mission, which comprises a satellite of the same name that is scheduled to go into space in 2024 to measure the new trajectory of an asteroid which was, of course, deflected only slightly, and to investigate its composition with two probes released in its vicinity. NASA’s DART mission shall be launched next year.
There’s a lot going on up there!
About 1,000 new asteroids enter our planetary system every year. More than nine hundred potentially dangerous Near Earth Objects (NEOs), as they are known as, are being monitored. Developed and assembled by OHB Italia, the first ESA Flyeye Telescope is to support observations of these celestial objects with a diameter of up to 100 meters from Sicily, Italy. According to scientific knowledge, a major asteroid capable of causing enormous damage on the surface of the Earth statistically only strikes every few centuries. Even so, it is important to learn more about these celestial bodies – starting with their discovery and identification as well as details of their trajectories and their composition.
What’s planned for Asteroid Day 2020?
Asteroid Day TV has been on air since the beginning of June at www.asteroidday.org and via satellite, offering an informative, English-language program devoted to asteroids and their exploration and the plans that humanity has to avert the dangers from outer space. Asteroid Day Live Digital from Luxembourg will streaming live on June 30 between 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm CET and will feature seven discussion panels organized by ESA and Asteroid Day together with various film contributions and individual interviews.