One hundred and eight years ago today (June 30), a massive object smashed down near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, causing a powerful explosion. On the anniversary of that event, which organizers call the largest impact in recent history, researchers all over the world are gathering to discuss asteroids and how to prepare for the next big impacts.
The first Asteroid Day was June 30, 2015. This year, in a series of events that are streaming live to the public, researchers will discuss the history of asteroid impacts, the current state of research into near-Earth asteroids and the threat they could pose to Earth — plus what humanity can do about such threats.
At 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT), Slooh Community Observatory will host a 4-hour live webcast, during which experts will discuss asteroid detection, deflection and mining. The webcast will stream live and will also be viewable on Space.com. The researchers will also take questions from users on Twitter and Slooh.com about the dangers and opportunities asteroids present.
The European Space Agency will launch an interactive strategy game, called AIM-Space Challenge, that will spotlight the agency's proposed Asteroid Impact Mission, which is proposed to launch in 2020 and travel to a binary asteroid system. The agency's asteroid scientists will also take questions on Reddit starting at 10:45 a.m. EDT (1445 GMT), and they will host Facebook Live sessions throughout the day from the Netherlands to discuss that future mission.
Discussions from experts with other organizations will be streamed live throughout the day. The sessions are listed in detail on the Asteroid Day website, and the website is also hosting the movie that inspired Asteroid Day, "51 Degrees North," which you can watch for free today.
In a conference about Asteroid Day in February, a panel of researchers discussed the need for more research into the near-Earth objects that share our space.
"This is not about fear mongering," Grig Richters, filmmaker and co-founder of Asteroid Day, said at that event. "It's about being aware there is a potential threat, and understanding better where we are from."
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Sarah Lewin started writing for Space.com in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.