Asteroid day image - artist impressionThursday 30th of June marks Asteroid Day, a relatively new annual global awareness movement that encourages people to come together to learn about asteroids and the potential impact effect on our home planet.

Asteroids are minor planets, and there are millions of them scattered throughout the Solar System. Many are thought to be the shattered remnants of planetesimals, bodies within the young Sun’s solar nebula that didn’t grow large enough to become planets. The asteroid belt, situated between Mars and Jupiter, contains the majority of known asteroids with a significant number, called Jupiter Trojans, being co-orbital with Jupiter. However, there are also ‘near-Earth asteroids’ (NEA), and ‘Earth-crossers’, asteroids that cross Earth’s orbital path. At the time of writing, there are 14,464 recorded NEA, with approximately 1000 of these over one kilometre in diameter.

Asteroid Day aims to bring awareness to how we can better understand asteroids and establish ways to protect our planet, communities and future generations. The day is held on the anniversary of the 1908 Siberian Tunguska event, the largest asteroid impact on Earth in recent history.

A key goal of the day is to introduce the 100x Declaration. The declaration calls for action, enlisting the help of scientists and technologists to have a rapid, hundred-fold acceleration of the discovery and tracking of near-Earth asteroids to 100,000 per year within the next ten years. It is hoped that by better understanding which asteroids are close to our planet, we can heighten awareness and efforts to prevent any possible impacts. Over 100 astronauts, scientists, technologists, and artists have signed the Declaration. However, the signing is not restricted to specialists, and anyone who is interested is encouraged to sign it.

You can find more information about the day here – including basic asteroid facts, detection methods and a video gallery.

Sign the declaration here.