June 30 will be observed as the International Asteroid Day, The United Nations announced on December 7. The cause for having the International Asteroid Day is to raise efforts on the potential hazards an asteroid impact may bring, as well as the efforts taken to make (and keep) the Earth safe from giant space rocks that could hit our planet.

Image Courtesy Of NASA
Image Courtesy Of NASA

If you see some connection between June 30 and asteroids you’re right. Nearly one hundred years ago, on June 30, 1908,  a massive explosion caused by an asteroid flattened 2,000 square kilometers of a forest in Siberia, Russia. The explosion was equal to 15 megatons of TNT.

The United Nations stated that “The date of International Asteroid Day commemorates the anniversary of the Tunguska asteroid impact over Siberia, Russian Federation, on 30 June 1908,” and that “The first official observance of International Asteroid Day will take place in 2017.”

They continued, saying that “Asteroid impacts are the only natural disaster we know how to prevent if we, as the crew of Spaceship Earth work together towards a global solution.”

The Tunguska event produced around 185 times more energy than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during the World War II, activating seismic instruments all over the world. Also, the event is still a mystery since scientists didn’t find any remains of a potential asteroid in the area, only flattened trees. Still, the asteroid impact theory is the official explanation of the Tunguska event. A giant asteroid hit the Earth some 65 million years ago, causing a massive extinction, wiping dinosaurs from the face of the Earth.

Tunguska Event
Tunguska Event

NASA regularly finds new space rocks that could hit the Earth at some time, but the chances for the Earth to suffer an asteroid impact during the next one hundred years is less than 0.01 percent. No matter the slim odds, scientists work on coming up with means that could drive an asteroid coming our way from its course, making it miss our planet.

NASA, in cooperation with Federal Emergency Management Agency, even conducted an exercise, simulating an asteroid impact this October. The cause of the exercise was to come up with strategies that would be able to protect people if a disaster takes place.

OSIRIS-REx mission, launched by NASA, has a goal of collecting asteroid samples and bringing them to Earth for analysis, with the main goal of gathering samples from Asteroid Bennu, one of the NEO (Near-Earth-Object), a gathering of space rocks that could hit the Earth more than one hundred years from now.


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