Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the sun, like planets. Most asteroids in our solar system are located in the main asteroid belt, the region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. These asteroids are the remnants of the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago. While most of them don’t pose a threat to the planet, if they do, they can be catastrophic. To raise awareness of the hazards of asteroid impacts, International Asteroid Day is observed on June 30.
Here’s everything you need to know about asteroids and why they pose a threat to Earth.
June 30 was designated by the United Nations as International Asteroid Day to commemorate the first anniversary of the Tunguska impact on Siberia. The devastating event occurred on June 30, 1908, in Siberia, in what has been called the largest asteroid impact Earth has ever witnessed in recorded history.
According to NASA, “the only first-hand account of a large meteoroid entering Earth’s atmosphere in modern history is the Tunguska event in 1908.” The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in December 2016 declaring June 30 as the date of International Asteroid Day.
What is an asteroid?
Asteroids are irregular rocky bodies that orbit the sun, but are much smaller than planets, according to NASA. They are airless objects, the remnants of our solar system’s early formation.
Our solar system is full of these rocky objects, most of which lie in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Many asteroids pass our planet safely, but some can get very close to Earth’s orbit.
Known as near-Earth objects (NEOs), these could pose a catastrophic threat to Earth. NASA closely monitors these near-Earth objects and, according to its Center for Near-Earth Object Research, has discovered more than 16,000 near-Earth asteroids.
How to celebrate International Asteroid Day?
International Asteroid Day aims to raise awareness of the dangers of asteroid impacts and familiarize them with the crisis communication actions that must be taken during such an event. As a result, various organizations hold events to educate people about asteroids and the risks they pose.
You can check out NASA’s special event in honor of last year’s International Asteroid Day, where the space agency and experts shared knowledge about asteroids and answered questions about interstellar objects.