Asteroid Day 2019 Promotion and NASA, ESA Lists of Asteroid Impact Risks

Asteroid Day is June 28. It is the official United Nations’ day of global awareness and education about asteroids. Redbubble is the largest global marketplace for independent artists. They are partnering to inspire the world about asteroids.

Redbubble announced the launch of a global design contest in May, calling on a community of more than 845,000 artists around the world to create asteroid-related art. Following the contest’s conclusion on June 15, Asteroid Day signatories and astronauts Ed Lu, Nicole Stott, Tom Jones, Chris Hadfield, and Leland Melvin will select three winners and unveil their designs on Asteroid Day Live, June 28th. Winners will receive public recognition from the Asteroid Day signatories, and one grand prize winner will receive a $500 cash award.

Throughout the duration of the contest, non-artists also have the opportunity to participate via weekly trivia challenges on social media that aim to raise awareness about the importance of Asteroid Day. Each week, a trivia participant will be selected at random to receive a $100 voucher to Redbubble.

Although currently detected risks have been low we are not seeing most of the asteroids.

Detecting Asteroids

As of April 2019, twenty thousand near earth asteroids have been found. We are finding them at a rate of 150 new discoveries every month and this number is set to rapidly increase.

NASA’s Pan-STARRS and Catalina sky surveys have detected most of the known near earth asteroids. The European Space Agency will deploy new Flyeye and Test-Bed Telescopes.

The Near Earth Object Survey TELescope (NEOSTEL aka “Flyeye”) is an astronomical survey and early-warning system for detecting near-Earth objects sized 40 meters and above a few weeks before they impact Earth. If we could track all asteroid threats down to 40 meters then we would be safe from impacts down to city level threats.

NEOSTEL is an ESA funded project, starting with an initial prototype currently under construction at OHB in Milan. The telescope is of a new “fly-eye” design inspired by the wide field of vision from a fly’s eye. When complete it will have one of the widest fields of view of any telescope and be able to survey the majority of the visible sky in a single night. If the initial prototype is successful, three more telescopes are planned, in complementary positions around the globe close to the equator.

In terms of light gathering power, the size of the primary mirror is not directly comparable to more conventional telescopes because of the novel design, but is equivalent to a conventional 1 meter telescope and should have a limiting magnitude of around 21.

The project is part of the NEO Segment of ESA’s Space Situational Awareness Programme. The telescope itself should be complete by end of 2019, and installation on Mount Mufara, Sicily should be complete in 2020.

NEOSTEL aka “Flyey

Known Asteroid Risks

This fall, Earth has about a 1-in-7,000 chance of getting hit by asteroid 2006 QV89. Compared to the 6-mile-long (10 kilometers) asteroid that killed the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago, 2006 QV89 is pretty dinky, measuring just 130 feet (40 meters) in diameter, or about the length of two bowling alleys placed end to end.

NASA’s Earth impact monitoring system has detected an asteroid that has a chance of hitting Earth in October. The asteroid, named 2007 FT3, was detected by NASA’s Sentry, an automated system that specifically monitors near-Earth objects that are on potential impact courses with the planet. The asteroids listed by Sentry are those that could hit Earth within the next 100 years.

The earliest possible impact event would occur on Oct. 3. 2019. 2007 FT3’s chances of hitting Earth in October is 1 out of 11 million. Starting in 2024, the asteroid is expected to have near-collisions with Earth on almost a yearly basis.

According to NASA’s database, the asteroid has a diameter of 1,115 feet, making it significantly taller than the Eiffel Tower in France. The space agency predicted that it will enter Earth’s atmosphere with a velocity of 45,600 miles per hour.

Given the asteroid’s size and speed, it will release a huge blast energy if it hits Earth. NASA noted that it will produce an energy equivalent to 2.7 million kilotons of TNT upon impact. This would be 100,000 times the force of the atomic bombs used in WW2.

Written By Brian Wang,