LONDON: Astronomers and rock stars are joining forces to inform the world of the danger posed to the planet by asteroids.
More than 100 leading scientists and astronauts from Dr Brian May to Chris Hadfield have signed a declaration asking for increased action to tackle objects that could end life on Earth.
And in an event scheduled for 30 June 2015, a Live Aid-style concert may be used to drum up support and tell the world just how much danger we are in – unless urgent measures are taken.
Known as Asteroid Awareness Day, this global event is being timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Tunguska event in Siberia in 1908.
This was the largest asteroid to impact Earth in recent history, and devastated an area about the size of a major metropolitan region – 2,000 square km.
Live concerts, community events, lectures and other educational programmes are planned to call for the increased detection and mapping of asteroids.
The signatories of the 100x Asteroid Declaration say that available technology should be employed to detect, track and defend Earth from asteroid impacts.
They include British Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and TV presenter Brian Cox. The experts are calling for a 100-fold increase in the detection and monitoring of so-called near Earth objects (NEOs).
It is estimated that of the million or so asteroids that could cause major damage on Earth, we are aware of only about 10,000 – or one percent.
This means that at any moment an asteroid could enter the atmosphere and cause widespread destruction, without any prior knowledge.
The possibility of this scenario has been repeatedly hinted at recently by meteorites and fireballs spotted in the sky.
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