UN space agency urges int’l planning to address potential impact of Asteroid hitting Earth


UNITED NATIONS, June 30 (APP): The potential impact of an asteroid or
comet hitting Earth could be catastrophic, a top United Nations official Friday warned, urging the international community to come together to jointly raise awareness and develop a plan to mitigate the danger.
Marking the first observance of International Asteroid Day, the
Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), said today
was an opportunity to learn about the technological progress taking
place around the world to both identify and counter asteroids.
“International cooperation is the best way to address the potential
impact of an asteroid on our planet,” Simonetta Di Pippo, the director, said.
“Join us to raise awareness of the value of space technology to
address global challenges, no matter where they come from and let’s
work together for the benefit of all humankind.”
The Day, which is marked annually on June 30, is meant to
“raise public awareness about the asteroid impact hazard and inform
the public about the crisis communication actions to be taken at the
global level in case of a credible near-Earth object threat,”
according to the dedicated UN website.
The General Assembly chose June 30 to mark the date in 1908 when
a massive explosion above Tunguska, in Siberian Russia, caused by an
asteroid, hit a forested area reportedly flattening some 80 million
The incident was “the Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded
history,” according to the UN.
UNOOSA has said that it worked for many years to recognize
asteroids or comets – both considered near-earth objects (NEOs) –
as global issues demanding an international response.
“Addressing such a hazard, including the identification of those
objects that pose a threat of impact and planning a corresponding
mitigation campaign, requires cooperative action in the interest of
public safety on the part of the global community,” the UN agency said.
Among most recent NEOs entering the Earth’s atmosphere, a large
fireball disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk on February 15,
2013. The fireball is said to have travelled at a speed of 18.6 km per second and was estimated to carry the equivalent of 440 kilotons of
TNT explosives.