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Association of Space Explorers

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Human society faces a long-term hazard from asteroid and comet impacts on Earth. The chances are 100% that our planet will be struck again by a large near-Earth object (NEO), and we have discovered only a tiny fraction of the million or so objects capable of destroying a city. Recognizing the threat posed by hazardous NEOs, the ASE, as an international association of influential space fliers, is active in promoting global discussions aimed at a near-term capability to prevent a future damaging impact. The Association formed its Committee on NEOs at its Congress in Salt Lake City in October 2005. The Committee is charged with bringing to the attention of world leaders and key international institutions the threat of asteroid impacts to life on Earth. In an Open Letter of October 14, 2005, the ASE said, in part:

“Due to advances in both the discovery of these objects and in space technology we are aware of the unique fact that these infrequent cosmic collisions are, using advanced space technology, both predictable and preventable. This distinctive and providential characteristic of NEO impacts allows the prevention of these largest of natural disasters, if, and only if, national governments and relevant international institutions understand these inevitable events and act together to prevent their occurrence.” 

Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation

Through its international expert Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation, the ASE quickly produced a decision-making proposal and a set of recommendations to help the international community address the impact threat. The plan went to the United Nations in 2008. Today, the Committee promotes inter-space agency planning for NEO deflection, and is active in United Nations discussions aimed at a decision-making agreement to deal with hazardous objects. Help ASE facilitate international cooperation on NEOs by making a donation – even small contributions will help us develop the will and technology to prevent a catastrophic impact.

Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response

In 2009, after three years of preparation and four international workshops, the NEO Committee formally submitted their report and recommendations:  Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response. The report was introduced in the 2009 session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN/COPUOS) in Vienna, Austria.  Major elements of our Asteroid Threats report/proposal were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013, including formation and UN approval of the International Asteroid Warning Network and the Space Missions Planning Advisory Group. These groups link the space-faring nations and international scientific institutions to search for, identify, and track NEOs, and to plan for an eventual deflection mission to prevent a dangerous asteroid/comet impact. ASE attends regular meetings of these groups to further international efforts to find and deal with hazardous asteroids.

ASE NEO Committee Members

Tom Jones (USA) – Chair

Sergei Avdeev (Russia) 

Franklin Chang-Diaz (USA/Costa Rica)

Pedro Duque (Spain) 

Chris Hadfield (Canada) 

Edward Lu (USA)

Soichi Noguchi (Japan) 

Dumitru Prunariu (Romania)

Viktor Savinykh (Russia)

Gerhard Thiele (Germany)

In 2016, the ASE proposed to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space that June 30 be designated as Asteroid Day, a worldwide educational event to acquaint the public with the asteroid impact hazard, and to seek international, cooperative support for search and deflection planning efforts. The UN COPUOS approved the ASE Asteroid Day measure, and Asteroid Day has been celebrated ever since each year on June 30, the anniversary of the Tunguska impact event in 1908, the largest impact event in recorded human history.

Asteroid Deflection

ASE and its membership supports the cooperative efforts between NASA and ESA to fly a pair of robotic spacecraft to intercept the near-Earth asteroid Didymos in 2022. The NASA DART spacecraft will strike the Didymos moonlet and alter its orbital period in a demonstration of kinetic impact. ESA’s HERA spacecraft will arrive after the impact event and evaluate the crater formed by DART’s collision, and measure precisely the change in the moonlet’s velocity, and thus the effectiveness of the kinetic impactor. 

Planetary Defense

ASE helps sponsor via financial contribution the biannual, global Planetary Defense Conference, bringing together the world’s experts and research results on defending Earth from a hazardous NEO impact. 

Summary of Planetary Defense Conference 2023
(Tom Jones)

The conference presentations and video are online at:
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Delivering the Astronaut Perspective

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