15 Years of Asteroid Hunting
A Letter from Danica Remy, President
The seasons are beginning to change here in California with the last few days of a warm streak. With great excitement, our team heads into the fall.
Oct 7th is the anniversary of B612, which formally incorporated and elected officers fifteen years ago. Five forward-thinking individuals were part of the organization’s founding. Be on the lookout for blog posts from Piet Hut, Clark Chapman, Rusty Schweickart, Geoff Baehr and Ed Lu who will share why they created B612, the progress in the field, our role as a leading institution in the planetary defense community, and their thoughts on the future!
The vision and hard work of these founding board directors have laid the groundwork for us to build the virtual Asteroid Institute focused on science and technology programs. Our team is working on hardware, new technologies, and applications that will help us accelerate our knowledge and understandings about asteroids. We are supported by an amazing group of strategic advisors who help us think through our plans, strategies, and outreach efforts to protect the planet from asteroid impacts. With the launch of the Asteroid Institute earlier this year, their support has enabled a focused framework and growing world-class set of resources to help us fulfill our mission. Have a look at the growing Asteroid Institute team.
Our team continues to make progress on the Asteroid Decision Analysis Machine (ADAM) Cloud Platform. ADAM will provide a cloud-based infrastructure for computing large-scale orbital dynamics and related computations that will enable the science, policy, and business community to better understand and make sense of opportunities and threats coming from the asteroids in the Solar System. Next week we’ll be hosting a Hack-a-Thon with fourteen team members assembling at the University of Washington to accelerate our work and brainstorm new ideas and enable the virtual team to meet each other for the first time!
We continue exploring implementation options to utilize synthetic tracking to increase the rate of asteroid discovery. Our partners in the private sector and at CalTech, SwRI and other academic partners are helping us advance the capabilities. As we have often stated, synthetic tracking technology could complement large land-based telescopes, such as LSST and an infrared space telescope such as NASA’s NEOCam, in finding and tracking dangerous asteroids.
Synthetic tracking technology will allow us to address asteroids in the size range below 140 meters by using extremely fast data processing to compensate for the rapid motion of small asteroids (which are necessarily closer to the telescope than larger asteroids). Standby for some exciting news on this front in the coming months.
Our education and advocacy program accomplishments include our participation in Asteroid Day and its global broadcast. This year with the financial and in-kind support of OHB, SES, BCE’s RTL City studios, Luxembourg Government, Discovery Science, BIL,Luxembourg Chambre de Commerce, SNCI, and GLAE, Asteroid Day delivered a 24-hour broadcast of educational asteroid education programming around the world.
Special thanks also goes to ESA, JAXA, NASA, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, as well as the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Observatory, whose participation in the live broadcast provided a more complete view of the many efforts to discover, observe and track asteroids.
But truly, the 1000+ independently organized events taking place in 92 countries by regional and local organizers were the heart of Asteroid Day. These coordinators and organizers invested their own time, dedication and passion to create their own Asteroid Day events. Working with scientists, researchers, and teachers in their communities, they shined a light on the experts locally who support the global conversation about asteroids.
In the past, this year and into the future, our work was only made possible through the generosity of our supporters and innovators in the field who partner with us. As we move towards the end of 2017, we will continue our strategy of leveraging our supporters’ investments in the best possible way – for the maximum benefit to our field and to the world as a whole.
Wishing you a few more warm, lazy summer days before the leaves begin to change and the days shorten.
President, B612 Foundation
Asteroid Institute in the News
Since we announced the formation of the Asteroid Institute in June, we have received a lot of coverage in the press, including articles in GeekWire, SpaceNews, and the Seattle Times. Click on the links to read the full articles.
Asteroid Day 2017 Live – See the show
You can see 31 asteroid experts and 5 astronauts talk about all things asteroid-related during the third anniversary of Asteroid Day. Watch it for the first time or see it again on the Asteroid Day website.
This study looks at the physical mechanisms of damage caused by asteroid impacts and the potential for loss of life and other potentially devastating effects. It shows that asteroids smaller than 100 meters are capable of causing enormous damage if impacting near an inhabited area, primarily through atmospheric blast effects.
Asteroid Institute’s Mission Scientist Marc Buie shares his observations after seeing his first full solar eclipse on August 21st. In this interview, Marc talks about studying occultations, the equipment he brought to the eclipse, and what it was like to share the experience with family and others in Glendo, Wyoming.
In August, B612 invited Romanian cosmonaut Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu for a two-day Bay Area visit. During his trip, Dorin and B612 guests toured a private space collection in Silicon Valley and visited the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Dorin, who is responsible for helping Asteroid Day become recognized by the UN, joined us for a viewing of the planetarium show Incoming! Afterward, Dorin treated museum visitors to a discussion on asteroids with a little help from astronaut & B612 co-founder Rusty Schweickart, who was also in attendance.
Pictured above from left to right in the Wilson Family Naturalist Center of Cal Academy: Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, Romanian cosmonaut; Bing Quock, Assistant Director, Morrison Planetarium at Cal Academy; and Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut and B612 co-founder.