Asteroid Day and Beyond

Laylan SaadaldinLaylan Saadaldin
  18 July 2016

The largest asteroid impact on Earth in recent history occurred on 30 June 1908, in Tunguska, Siberia. The mid-air explosion flattened some 2,000 square kilometres of forest. Fast forward to 30 June 2015: Asteroid Day is launched by Grig Richters, German filmmaker, and Brian May, former Queen guitarist and astrophysicist, to raise awareness about asteroids and their potential danger.

Held on 30 June to commemorate the Tunguska event, Asteroid Day is a global awareness campaign aimed at educating the public on asteroids as well as how to protect the Earth in the event of a threat. Participating organizations are encouraged to host their asteroid-themed events locally as well as engage with the public online. This year, the European Space Agency participated in Asteroid Day. As ESA prepares to submit its candidate Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) to the Ministerial Council for approval later in the year, Asteroid Day was the perfect opportunity to promote this and EJR-Quartz editors supported the campaign in a number of ways.

Scientific editor Linda Carrette supported the ESA AIM team in coordinating the creation of two unique multimedia tools to be released for Asteroid Day – an interactive, fun, mobile phone game, and a full-dome video of the AIM mission to be shown at participating Planetariums. At the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, Linda helped to set up an AIM stand for Asteroid Day.

Meanwhile, Technology editor Sean Blair worked on a number of special features for Asteroid Day, highlighting AIM and ESA’s Space Situational Awareness Programme. Sean also hosted a Facebook LIVE session featuring a demonstration of the physical asteroid model being used for the mission’s camera assessment. He was also among the group of ESA scientists, engineers, and communication officers that participated in the popular Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread.

Chief social media publisher Maria Bennett was responsible for planning and coordinating ESA social media for Asteroid Day, liaising with the Asteroid Day founders.

It was an exciting day for all. While helping to promote asteroid awareness through ESA activities – where “every day is Asteroid Day” – our editors learned quite a bit themselves about the virtual organisation of Asteroid Day and reaching a mass audience through various media partners and influencers.