Call for media: reacting to threat of asteroid impacts

Collage of known asteroids
20 October 2010

ESA PR 24-2010 How would the world react to the threat of an asteroid impact? The media are invited to meet top-level experts at ESA's space operations centre in Germany on 29 October to find out more.

Journalists are invited to Darmstadt, Germany for a briefing at the end of a workshop on Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and the dangers they present.

The high-level Mission Planning and Operations Group (MPOG) workshop includes astronauts and space scientists. It is the latest in a series organised to report to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and includes representatives from major space agencies, NASA astronauts, the Secure World Foundation and the Association of Space Explorers.

"The workshop series is focusing on plans and recommendations for global coordination and response in the event that an asteroid or other object is found to pose an impact threat to Earth," says workshop coordinator Detlef Koschny from ESA.

The three-day meeting is being hosted by ESA at the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.

Plausible asteroid impact and timing scenarios

Former NASA astronauts at impact workshop hosted by ESA
Apollo 9 astronauts McDivitt and Schweickart in simulator

Participants will review the latest information and findings from asteroid and NEO research worldwide, and receive briefings on activities of the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee and ESA's Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme. They will also consider two theoretical but plausible impact scenarios and analyse them in detail in order to identify the best strategy for global response.

In addition to senior managers from ESA, NASA, the Russian space agency Roscosmos and numerous national space agencies, participants will include:

  • Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut and Head of ASE's Committee on NEOs
  • Thomas Jones, NASA astronaut on four Space Shuttle flights and a long-time asteroid impact researcher
  • Brian Weeden, Technical Advisor at the Secure Word Foundation, researcher in space debris and collision issues and related space policy.
  • Sergio Camacho, space science researcher, former Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs and now Secretary General of the Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The workshop will define future planning tasks and studies for the Group that will later be merged with findings of other experts to create a final report to the UN committee. Such a report will recommend how to react to an impact threat.

Under ESA's Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme, Europe is acquiring the capability to watch for objects and natural phenomena that could harm satellites in orbit or facilities on the ground.

Media briefing at ESA's operations centre, Friday, 29 October


12:30 Doors open to pre-registered media representatives
13:00 Welcome by Manfred Warhaut, Head of the Mission Operations Dept. and Deputy Head of ESOC
13:05 Overview by Nicolas Bobrinsky, Head of ESA's Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme
13:20 Introduction of MPOG participants by Detlef Koschny, ESA NEO expert
13:30 Presentation of findings by MPOG Workshop
14:15 Open Q&A with the media
14:30 Conclusion; further interview opportunities

Media registration

This event is now complete.

Live webcast 29 October 2010 13:00–14:30 CEST

The media briefing will be webcast live from ESOC on 29 October, 13:00-14:30 CEST (GMT+2). The video stream will be available via:

Website owners wishing to embed/rebroadcast the stream should visit for details and to access the embed video player code.


Media contacts at ESOC

Bernhard von Weyhe or Andreas Schepers
Corporate Communications Office, ESA/ESOC
Tel: +49 6151 90 25 46 (4204)

Workshop Coordinator

Dr Detlef Koschny
ESA Head of Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme — NEO Segment
Tel: +31 71 565 4828


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