On 10 September 2020 an asteroid missed our planet by 40 million kilometers, more than 100 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
It was detected only very recently by amateur astronomer Leonardo Amaral of the Campo dos Amarais observatory in Brazil.
To quote Planetary Society’s Chief scientist Bruce Betts: “the fact that this relatively large near-Earth object, or NEO, wasn’t detected until now serves as a reminder that there’s much work to be done when it comes to defending our planet from dangerous asteroids”.
Leonardo Amaral’s important discovery was supported by the members of The Planetary Society, which awarded Amaral an $8,500 Shoemaker NEO grant to purchase a more stable telescope mount for better tracking and longer camera exposures.
You, too, can become a Planetary Defender by donating. Every dollar will power our crucial planetary defense initiatives.
Image Copyright ESA-M. Cowan, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
How can we all do space
How can we all do space, @fillingspace recently asked me on Twitter. That’s a good question, because space still appears to be something huge that nations do or super-wealthy investors. But of course the question got me thinking, and there are definitely a few areas where all of us can do space. So I thought I’d collect a few here – which means that this is more of an ongoing post, that will undergo the occasional revision or may spawn a sequel at some point. So here we go.
This is a great way to participate in the scientific endeavor. Sometimes there are science projects that need a human eye to sift through reams of date – images, sounds – because we are still way better at detecting patterns than uncle AI. A kind of one stop shop for some of the loveliest projects is Zooniverse. There, for example, you can go hunt for Planet 9 if you so feel inclined. Other space related projects (loads) are available.
Engagement and Advocacy
For ways to get involved in person, there are also a few options – some depend on location, others not so much.
The Planetary Society offers several options. This US-Organization – originally founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Louis Friedman, and Bruce Murray – creates programs to raise awareness of space exploration, has projects like Lightsail, a solar sailing spacecraft slated to launch 2019 on the third Falcon Heavy launch and has become very active in advocacy in Washington, making the case for space exploration. To support their work, you can become a member or actually “become a space advocate” . They work they do in Washington seems to be quite successful.
I have yet to find a European counterpart that would allow citizens to make a coordinated advocacy effort. So if anybody knows anything, drop me a line on twitter please.
Or you can just have fun – by joining a Yuri’s Night Event near (or starting one yourself) or going to whatever the space place nearest to you has to offer. ESTEC in Noordwijk/NL has an annual open day in the fall, others may also do things – ESA is all over Europe.
There are a few fun choices out there to that allow you to stay on top of the issue.
Take a look at Emily Lakdawalla’s for beautiful imagery and insightful, detailed information.
Data & Dev
There are also almost always hackathons going on with ESA, EUMETSAT or NASA – and I try to post them on my twitter feed as I get aware of them. On big one is actinspace – next one is scheduled for April 2020.
If you want to get even more serious than that: ESA running a Business Incubation program with currently 21 local representations all over Europe (see list on ESA-website). They also rund regular events, competitions, etc.
There are always life choices you can make. Over the years I had the privilege to work with some marvellous people who had found their place in space.
One is Janja Avbelji. Her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut and her love of figuring out how things work led her to become an engineer working on satellite data. Here is her TEDx-Talk:
And Kwame Adu Agyekum on how to hunt down pirates fishing where rightfully only fishers from Ghana are allowed to by using satellite data!
Or all videos from TEDxESA.
That’s all for today. If you know about something that should be added on here, let me know on @how2space.