Asteroid Day 2021 and the 25th Anniversary of the NASA NEAR-Shoemaker Launch

Lan Luu

August 26, 2021

Asteroid Institute leaders Dr. Ed Lu and Dr. Lynne Jones joined June 30th Asteroid Day programs around the world.


B612 was a founding partner of Asteroid Day in 2014, which today is a sanctioned United Nations day of asteroid awareness and education. Asteroid Day 2021 was celebrated worldwide with hundreds of events and asteroid experts. Several members of the B612 crew, including Dr. Ed Lu and Dr. Lynne Jones, participated. This year, they joined Asteroid Day LIVE for a Keeping Track of Asteroids panel. 

Asteroid Institute

Chabot Space & Science Center interns Maxwell Edmond-Drati, Banoo Afkhami, Noel Seo, and Aditya Lyengar interviewed Dr. Lu during their Asteroid Day program. The students had great questions about asteroids, about the work of the Asteroid Institute, and about how our organization was named B612 (minute 16:38).

Asteroid InstituteDr. Jones presented at the Tellus Museum’s virtual Lunch and Learn program on Asteroid Day, and she discussed the role of the LSST (Vera C. Rubin) Observatory and Asteroid Institute’s ADAM platform. 

An artist’s rendering of NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft at asteroid Eros. Credit: NASA


Of special interest, the theme at this year’s Asteroid Day was the “25th launch anniversary of NASA’s NEAR Shoemaker.” The mission was the first spacecraft to orbit and land on an asteroid.

Also celebrated were three new asteroid-related
launches including DART (Double Asteroid Redirect Test), the world’s first mission to test an asteroid deflection. The DART spacecraft launch window begins November 24, 2021. Read more about Asteroid Day events.

Editor’s note: We express our deepest gratitude for the contributions Carolyn Shoemaker made to the field of astronomy, and to asteroid and comet discovery and education. She was a key advisor to B612 and Asteroid Institute, and one of the earliest signatories to the 100x Asteroid Declaration, a global call to action to accelerate the rate of asteroid discoveries, and which launched Asteroid Day in 2014. Carolyn passed away on August 13, 2021. Members of B612 leadership recently paid tribute to Carolyn. 


Lan Luu