World Asteroid Day 2021: History and Significance

Each year, June 30 is observed as the International Asteroid Day to mark the anniversary of the Siberian Tunguska event. Read all you need to know.

Created On: Jun 30, 2021 14:50 IST
World Asteroid Day, Source: PTI
World Asteroid Day, Source: PTI

Each year, June 30 is observed as the International Asteroid Day to mark the anniversary of the Siberian Tunguska event. The day is observed to promote awareness around asteroids, and how can we protect our planet from asteroids.

International Asteroid Day is an UN-sanctioned observance day that focuses on the potential of catastrophic threats posed by near-earth objects such as asteroids or comets. There are over one million asteroids that can strike Earth.

The Tunguska asteroid event in Siberia, Russia on June 30, 1908, was the largest catastrophic asteroid impact on Earth recorded ever.

International Asteroid Day: History

• The United Nations General Assembly in December 2016 adopted a resolution to declare June 30 as International Asteroid Day. The day was created to observe the anniversary of the Tunguska asteroid event over Siberia, Russia that happened on June 30, 1908, and thus raise awareness around the hazardous impact of an asteroid on Earth.

• The UN declaration was based on the proposal and recommendations by the Association of Space Explorers which was endorsed by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPOUS).

• Asteroid Day was co-founded by astrophysicist and musician Dr. Brian May, of the rock group Queen, Filmmaker Grig Richters, B612 President Danica Remy, and Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart.

• The founders of Asteroid Day and scientists around the world signed the 100X Asteroid Declaration that aims to increase the rate of discovery of asteroids.

International Asteroid Day: Significance

• International Asteroid Day is an opportunity for raising awareness around Earth’s vulnerability to asteroids. This day aims at expanding our knowledge about asteroids and how we can protect Earth from another catastrophic event.

• The goals of the 100X Asteroid Declaration are:

(i) Track and detect near-Earth objects such as asteroids that pose threat to Earth,

(ii) Increase the rate of discovery of asteroids to 1,00,000 per year within the next ten years,

(iii) Adoption of Asteroid Day on a global scale to increase awareness around asteroids and their impact on Earth

The Tunguska asteroid event

• A large fireball on June 30, 1908, entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 18.6 km per second. The asteroid was measured to be approximately 18 meters wide and weighed 11,000 tons. The asteroid hit Earth in Siberia, Russia.

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