LUXEMBOURG, LONDON, BERLIN, SILICON VALLEY, BUCHAREST (February 14, 2017) -- The city of Luxembourg today hosted international leaders to launch Asteroid Day 2017. Asteroid Day is a UN sanctioned global day of education to raise awareness about asteroids and in particular how we protect Earth from dangerous impacts.
The press conference was broadcast live from Luxembourg, with the participation of experts in planetary science, business and government joining from Berlin, Bucharest, Silicon Valley, and London - courtesy of Cisco TelePresence Centers and the live stream by vBrick Rev.
The press conference is archived for viewing and the live stream may be downloaded (one hour post press conference) at: http://asteroidday.org/newsroom
Etienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy of Luxembourg, welcomed guests by expressing his country’s “leading role related to asteroids, within the framework of the SpaceResources.lu initiative. Luxembourg aims to contribute to the peaceful exploration and sustainable utilization of resources from celestial bodies. While asteroids might be seen as a threat to our planet, they are a tremendous opportunity. Indeed, the use of space resources, both on earth and in space, holds great potential for future technological innovation, economic activity and growth with a promise of ecological and social benefits for humanity. To ensure that this vision becomes a reality, we have to increase our knowledge and understanding of asteroids and Near Earth Objects.”
Luxembourg announced that it will be hosting Asteroid Day Live from Luxembourg, a 24-hour live broadcast of global Asteroid Day activities and educational programming on June 30th, made possible by local Luxembourg companies, including SES and OHB SE. OHB SE and SES satellites are joining forces with Asteroid Day as Sponsors. BCE will be the official production studio for Asteroid Day Live, broadcast from the new BCE Studios in RTL City in Luxembourg.
Marco Fuchs, CEO of OHB SE, thanked the organizers of Asteroid Day for the great opportunity to participate in this global event. “Asteroids are celestial objects fascinating everybody, young people and experienced researchers alike. Protection of Earth from a future impact and commercial exploitation of asteroids through mining constitute a global endeavour for generations. I share the enthusiasm of my engineers to design a fast mission to a near-Earth asteroid in only five years to test key technologies.”
Ruy Pinto, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, SES: “SES is a natural partner for Asteroid Day because we are experts in space and we can help spread the message around the world. As global leaders in our industry, we manage the largest commercial satellite platform in the world, reaching 317 million TV households worldwide and thus touching the lives of around 1.3 billion people every day. We are a natural partner because we see space as an important resource that we continue to develop and leverage, together with Luxembourg’s Government.”
Asteroid Day - UN designated event
In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly recognized Asteroid Day as an official UN event and declared it to be held internationally each year on June 30, the anniversary of the largest asteroid impact in recent history, the 1908 Tunguska impact. The UN resolution invites all United Nations Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe Asteroid Day.
Dr. Brian May, Queen guitarist, co-founder of Asteroid Day commented: “On the heels of the United Nations announcement, the momentum for Asteroid Day is increasing exponentially around the world, enhanced greatly by the new commitments from Luxembourg and the addition of OHB SE and SES as global sponsors. And, we are highly appreciative of Cisco joining Discovery Science, ESA, ASE and B612 as our primary partners making Asteroid Day Live from Luxembourg in 2017 a reality.”
Astronaut Dorin Prunariu, who was instrumental in realising the UN Declaration with the UN COPUOS and the support of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), explained the crucial role of continued international collaboration: “Planetary defense is well within our capability in the near future. However, reaching our goals will require continued and strong collaboration among government institutions, academic institutions and private organizations to realise both terrestrial and space-based assets. This is why Asteroid Day is so valuable.”
Asteroid Day 2017
Grig Richters and Danica Remy, co-founders of Asteroid Day noted that during Asteroid Day 2016, more than 500 asteroid-related educational events were held in 72 countries, involving more than 150,000 participants and reaching over 1.3 million people through “live” online activities. “This year, we welcome to date 97 regional coordinators and anticipate more than 700 educational events for June 30,” stated Remy. “In addition to OHB SE and SES, we welcome to Asteroid Day the European Southern Observatory, International Space University, and the Secure World Foundation and thank the continued support of our more than 30 partners joining us for Asteroid Day 2017.”
All activities for Asteroid Day are self organized by independent organizations, including science centers, universities, cities and concerned citizens. 2017 activities will be listed in the future on the Asteroid Day website: asteroidday.org/event-guide
Asteroid Detection and Deflection
Experts at the press conference emphasised the importance of planetary defense and in particular new technologies and missions that can aid in more rapid detection and deflection of asteroids.
Lord Martin Rees, UK Astronomer Royal, astrophysicist, and distinguished fellow of Trinity College, emeritus professor of cosmology at the University of Cambridge, has strongly supported Asteroid Day since its launch in 2014. He joined the press conference from Cambridge: “We know that asteroids pose risks to Earth and recent advances in sensor technology have radically improved our ability to detect and deflect these Near Earth objects. The value of Asteroid Day is that it raises the level of awareness for governments to private citizens to take action.”
Representing the European Space Agency (ESA), Franco Ongaro, Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality, and Head of ESTEC Establishment spoke to the importance of Asteroid Day: “The European Space Agency is fully engaged in the protection of our planet with the detection of asteroids through our Space Situation Awareness program and supporting the test of asteroid deflection with the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) Mission cooperation with NASA and the Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) if possible. Both represent the central role and bold ambition of Europe to address the only natural hazard that can be prevented. Our partnership with Asteroid Day has proven very valuable in communicating the merits of our efforts."
Dr. Patrick Michel, Principal Investigator of the Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) echoed the importance of Asteroid Day and the AIM mission: “Simulations of asteroid deflection by impact are only as good as the knowledge we put into them. With AIM, we have the unique opportunity to test our simulations and see how the asteroid responds upon impact,” stated Dr. Michel. “AIM will also demonstrate advanced new technologies for use in future planetary missions and pave the way to new types of deep-space missions using CubeSats for riskier operations.”
Dr. Ed Lu, a three time US Astronaut and CEO of B612, an expert in the field of planetary defense, emphasized the key elements in protecting Earth from dangerous asteroids: “Asteroids are scientific gold mines telling us about the history and dynamics of our solar system. But they also sometimes collide with Earth. Asteroid Day helps garner the support needed to protect Earth from a dangerous impact. Finding Near Earth Asteroids as early as possible is the first priority for planetary defense, in order to give adequate time to make decisions and implement courses of action.”
Dr. Tom Jones, a planetary scientist and veteran astronaut of four NASA space missions, and Chair of Association of Space Explorers Committee on Near-Earth Objects explained: “The greatest benefit we can anticipate from 21st century space exploration is the prevention, using spaceflight technology, of a disastrous asteroid collision with Earth. International Asteroid Day is an ideal opportunity to enlist the public in global efforts to discover hazardous asteroids and develop the detailed plans to nudge them from a collision course.”
Debbie Lewis, deputy chair of the Asteroid Day expert panel and a specialist in risk, crisis and disaster management, joined from London and expressed concerns about the current lack of planning to effectively respond to a potential disaster. “Recent events such as the 2013 Chelyabinsk incident and this month’s meteor strike over Milwaukee, Wisconsin, could be harbingers of a future, more serious incident. It is a case of ‘when, not if’ a serious asteroid impact event will occur and it will require international cooperation for preparedness and response that address the science of detection and deflection, as well as contingency plans for civil protection.” Mrs. Lewis will be independently organizing an Asteroid Day 2017 event at the Imperial College, London.
Asteroid Day Sponsors
OHB System AG is one of the three leading space companies in Europe. It belongs to the listed high-tech group OHB SE (ISIN: DE0005936124, Prime Standard), where around 2,200 specialists and system engineers work on key European space programs. With two strong sites in Bremen and Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich and 35 years of experience, OHB System AG specializes in high-tech solutions for space. These include low-orbiting and geostationary satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications, science and space exploration as well as systems for human space flight, aerial reconnaissance and process control systems.
Further information available at: www.ohb-system.de
SES is the world-leading satellite operator and the first to deliver a differentiated and scalable GEO-MEO offering worldwide, with more than 50 satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and 12 in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). SES focuses on value-added, end-to-end solutions in four key market verticals (Video, Enterprise, Mobility and Government). It provides satellite communications services to broadcasters, content and internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, governments and institutions, and businesses worldwide. SES’s portfolio includes the ASTRA satellite system, which has the largest Direct-to-Home (DTH) television reach in Europe, and O3b Networks, a global managed data communications service provider. Another SES subsidiary, MX1, is a leading media service provider and offers a full suite of innovative digital video and media services. Further information available at: www.ses.com
About Asteroid Day
Asteroid Day is a UN sanctioned global day of education to raise awareness about asteroids and in particular how we protect Earth from asteroid impacts. Asteroid Day was co-founded in 2014, by Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and lead guitarist for the rock band Queen, Danica Remy, B612 Chief Operations Officer, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, and German filmmaker Grig Richters. Asteroid Day is held on 30 June each year to mark Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded history, the Siberia Tunguska event, which devastated over 2000 square km, the size of any major metropolitan city.
MEDIA RESOURCES: A video taping of the Press Conference and additional resources for media, including photos and video, and bios of speakers, are available at: http://asteroidday.org/newsroom
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