The European Space Agency had invited astronomers, physicists, nuclear engineers and mathematicians to discuss the slim possibility
of a space rock smashing into Earth and causing regional damage
or maybe even the end of civilization. The goal was, as it has been
for the last six Planetary Defense conferences, to share information about identifying asteroid threats and the methods for saving us all.
The focus this year was on exploring whether nations would collaborate in the face of such a threat. Scientists today can tell us, with various degrees of certainty, that an object is on track to smash into the planet in, say, 200 years, and they believe we probably have the technology
to stop it. But nobody knows how human beings could or would cooperate to face a global peril. And in an age when many politicians deny man-influenced climate change, can we even count on them to believe the asteroid hazard is real?
“We have the technology to deflect dangerous asteroids
through kinetic impactors and gravity tractors
but only if we have years of advance warning of their trajectories,
said Dr. Ed Lu, three-time Shuttle astronaut and co-founder
of the Sentinel Mission.
“Now we need the resolve to go forward.
It is the only natural disaster we know how to prevent.”
Additional information on Asteroid Day,
the 100x Asteroid Declaration,
as well as photos and video from the December 3rd announcement
is available at: