Celebrate Asteroid Day 2021 with NASA and The Asteroid Foundation

Asteroids can pose a big threat to Earth (just ask the dinosaurs) and scientists around the world regularly scan the skies for potentially dangerous space rocks. They'll discuss that work and more today (June 30) for Asteroid Day 2021, which which marks the anniversary of the Tunguska meteor explosion in Siberia in 1908. 

Both NASA and the Asteroid Foundation will host free virtual talks about these space rocks and how scientists  are exploring them to keep our planet safe, and you can watch them live here.

You can watch the NASA discussion at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) on NASA Television, or in the media player in this article on Space.com. Viewers can send in questions using the hashtag #askNASA to the two participating experts: Dani DellaGiustina, acting deputy principal investigator for the OSIRIS-Rex asteroid sample return mission at the University of Arizona, and Terik Daly, a senior scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory who studies solar system evolution.

The Asteroid Foundation's livestream, which has 44 speakers and will last five hours, begins at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) on TwitchTV, on the foundation's website and via SES satellite (tuning details here for subscribers.) The four themes of this year's broadcast are finding and tracking asteroids, getting to know asteroids, defending the Earth and exploring the solar system.

This year is particularly remarkable for the number of asteroid missions to commemorate, the foundation said in a press release. The broadcast will mark the 25th launch anniversary of NASA's NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft, which was the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid and to land on a space rock.

The coming months will also see the launch of three new asteroid missions from NASA: Lucy, Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) Scout and Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART), the latter of which will test asteroid deflection with a European spacecraft, called Hera, which launches in 2024. 

The Asteroid Foundation's live digital programming includes an array of scientists, astronauts, celebrities and the asteroid-focused B612 Foundation, among other speakers. You can see a full list of speakers for the day here

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace