June 28, 2017- Again this year, LSST will participate in Asteroid Day, a UN-sanctioned global day to raise awareness about asteroids and in particular how we protect Earth from potential asteroid impacts. Asteroid Day 2017 takes place June 30th and is sponsored by the B612 Foundation, an American-based non-profit organization created to protect the Earth from dangerous asteroids through early detection. More than 700 events in 190 countries around the world are planned for Asteroid Day in 2017, including Asteroid Day Live, a global 24-hour broadcast about space and asteroids, beginning at 6:00 pm PDT on June 29th. LSST was proud to be selected as a participant in this first-ever broadcast event; video footage featuring LSST will air at 11:00 pm PDT on June 29th. This video will also be available on our YouTube channel after the event.
Although the chance of a large asteroid hitting Earth is small, the consequences would be catastrophic. At Congress’s direction, NASA has supported a ground-based program to identify Near Earth Objects (NEOs) larger than one kilometer in diameter. But even an asteroid smaller than that could cause significant damage to Earth, so it’s also important to identify as many of these as possible. LSST will help detect millions of asteroids that are too small or too far away to be viewed through currently available telescopes. You can read more details about how LSST will help detect Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) here.
Detecting asteroids is not only important for planetary defense, but also for understanding more about the composition and evolution of our Solar System. By scanning the entire night sky in the Southern Hemisphere, and recording images of the same area approximately every three nights, LSST will provide information that will help astronomers determine an asteroid’s size, composition, and orbit. Even asteroids that will never come near Earth can provide us with valuable clues about the formation—and the future—of the Solar System.
We hope you’ll participate in Asteroid Day 2017; check with your local planetarium or science museum to see if there’s an Asteroid Day event happening near you. And don’t forget to tune into Asteroid Day Live for documentaries, live panel discussions, and an inspiring video about LSST!
Financial support for LSST comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded LSST Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). The DOE-funded effort to build the LSST camera is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.
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