Every year on June 30th, International Asteroid Day raises public awareness about the hazards of an asteroid impact. It’s also a day to inform the public about crisis communication actions necessary in the event of a credible near-Earth object event.
Considered minor planets, some asteroids even have a companion moon. These massive objects orbit the sun consisting of rock, metals, and other elements. The largest asteroids are over 300 miles in diameter. If they were to collide with Earth, the damage would be extensive.
An asteroid collision would cause environmental impacts, such as shock waves, heat radiation, earthquakes, and tsunamis. The currently known asteroid count is 958,915. Most of these asteroids orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists refer to this area as the asteroid belt. There are three classes of asteroids.
The three classes of asteroids include:
- C-type (chondrite) – This most common type of asteroid consists of clay and silicate rocks.
- S-type (stony) – This asteroid consists of silicate rocks and nickel-iron.
- M-type (metallic) – Nickel-iron composes these asteroids.
Scientists closely monitor Near-earth asteroids. These asteroids come within 28 million miles of the Earth’s orbital distance. While this may seem like a long way away, you need to consider how fast asteroids travel. The average asteroid travels about 15.5 miles per second. That’s a rate of 930 miles per minute, which equals 55,800 miles per hour!
According to scientists, an asteroid named Apophis will come exceptionally close to Earth in 2029. They expect the asteroid to be only 25,000 miles from Earth. Within this distance, Earth has most of its communication satellites. Gravity could cause this asteroid to leave its trajectory and collide with Earth in 2036. Because of asteroids and other near-earth objects, scientists believe we need to have a space system in place by 2040 that will protect our planet from a potential impact.
HOW TO OBSERVE #InternationalAsteroidDay
On the very first Asteroid Day, a petition called the 100XAsteroid Declaration was formed. Every year, people are encouraged to sign the petition that calls for increasing the asteroid discovery rate to 100,000 times a year within the next 10 years. You can participate in this day by signing the petition. You can also share this day on social media with #InternationalAsteroidDay.
INTERNATIONAL ASTEROID DAY HISTORY
Four people are credited for founding Asteroid Day. The co-founders include Dr. Brian May, an astrophysicist and lead guitarist for the rock band QUEEN, Danica Remy, President of B612 Foundation, Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut, and filmmaker Grig Richters. June 30th commemorates the date of the Tunguska impact. On June 30th, 1908, a mysterious cosmic impact occurred in Siberia. In 2016, with support from the United Nations, the day became known as International Asteroid Day.