Call for media: ESA hosts IAA Planetary Defence Conference 2015
ESA will host the International Academy of Astronautic's 4th Planetary Defence Conference (PDC 2015), entitled ‘Assessing Impact Risk & Managing Response', at the Agency's ESRIN establishment, near Rome, 13–17 April 2015. A media briefing will be held on 16 April 2015.
PDC 2015 will provide a forum for the world's top experts from space agencies, academia and industry to present the latest research and discuss current scientific understanding of the risk posed by asteroids that could potentially strike our planet.
Topics to be discussed at PDC 2015 include planetary defence, the continuing international search for undiscovered NEOs, the state of scientific knowledge of asteroids and their physical characteristics, mitigation techniques, future deflection missions, impact warning and effects, civil response and education. The conference will include an exercise where participants will simulate the decision-making process for developing deflection and civil defence responses to a hypothetical asteroid impact threat.
Media are invited to take part in the PDC2015 press briefing, Thursday, 16 April, to include presentations from agency experts and the release of summary findings from the week-long conference.
Assessing the threat
Of the more than 600 000 known asteroids in our Solar System, more than 12 000 are classified as near-Earth objects, or NEOs, because their orbits bring them relatively close to our path.
Dramatic proof that any of these can strike Earth came on 15 February 2013, when an unknown object thought to be 17–20 m in diameter arrived at 66 000 km/h and exploded high above Chelyabinsk, Russia, with 20–30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
The resulting shock wave caused widespread damage and injuries, making it the largest known natural object to have entered the atmosphere since the 1908 Tunguska event, which destroyed a remote forest area of Siberia.
Coordinating Europe's efforts
International cooperation to address the NEO threat is coordinated at ESA by the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Programme office.
In addition to coordinating Europe's asteroid-hunting activities, the SSA Programme office represents ESA at the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG), technical fora with a mandate from the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) to develop a strategy on how to react to a possible asteroid impact threat.
Press briefing 16 April
The media briefing will be held at ESRIN, ESA's Centre for Earth Observation, in Frascati, near Rome, on 16 April 2015.
Doors open at 10:00 CEST (08:00 GMT)
CREOP Room, Building 11, ESRIN
Doors open; registration
The Planetary Defence Conference: Global cooperation against asteroid threats
Dr Detlef Koschny, Head of NEO Segment, ESA Space Situational Awareness Programme
Finding asteroids & avoiding impacts: space agencies taking action to prevent future catastrophe
Dr Lindley Johnston, NEO Programs Executive, Science Mission Directorate, HQ NASA
Responding to asteroid threat scenarios - The importance of impact simulation exercises
Debbie Lewis, Director, Resilience Planning at Axiom (Alderney) Ltd.
Presentation of findings PDC 2015
Dr William Ailor, Distinguished Engineer, The Aerospace Corporation, PDC 2015 co-chair
Richard Tremayne-Smith, Advisor, The Secure World Foundation, PDC 2015 co-chair
End of briefing; opportunities for individual interviews; small group visits to ESA's NEO Coordination Centre
Media representatives wishing to attend the 16 April press briefing are requested to register here. Any media who have already registered for full access to the PDC 2015 conference are automatically registered for this briefing and need take no further action.