ESA will host the International Academy of Astronautic’s 4th Planetary Defence Conference (PDC 2015), entitled ‘Assessing Impact Risk & Managing Response’, at the Agency’s ESRIN establishment, near Rome, 13–17 April 2015. A media briefing will be held on 16 April 2015.
PDC 2015 (http://www.pdc2015.org) will provide a forum for the world’s top experts from space agencies, academia and industry to present the latest research and discuss current scientific understanding of the risk posed by asteroids that could potentially strike our planet.
Topics to be discussed at PDC 2015 include planetary defence, the continuing international search for undiscovered NEOs, the state of scientific knowledge of asteroids and their physical characteristics, mitigation techniques, future deflection missions, impact warning and effects, civil response and education. The conference will include an exercise where participants will simulate the decision-making process for developing deflection and civil defence responses to a hypothetical asteroid impact threat.
Media are invited to take part in the PDC2015 press briefing, Thursday, 16 April, to include presentations from agency experts and the release of summary findings from the week-long conference.
Assessing the threat
Of the more than 600 000 known asteroids in our Solar System, more than 12 000 are classified as near-Earth objects, or NEOs, because their orbits bring them relatively close to our path.
Dramatic proof that any of these can strike Earth came on 15 February 2013, when an unknown object thought to be 17–20 m in diameter arrived at 66 000 km/h and exploded high above Chelyabinsk, Russia, with 20–30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
The resulting shock wave caused widespread damage and injuries, making it the largest known natural object to have entered the atmosphere since the 1908 Tunguska event, which destroyed a remote forest area of Siberia.
Coordinating global efforts
International cooperation to address the NEO threat is coordinated at ESA by the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Programme office.
In addition to coordinating Europe’s asteroid-hunting activities, the SSA Programme office represents ESA at the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG), technical fora with a mandate from the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) to develop a strategy on how to react to a possible asteroid impact threat.
Press briefing 16 April
The media briefing will be held at ESRIN, ESA’s Centre for Earth Observation, in Frascati, near Rome, on 16 April 2015.
Doors open at 10:00 CEST (08:00 GMT).
CREOP Room, Building 11, ESRIN
10:00 Doors open; registration
10:30 The Planetary Defence Conference: Global cooperation against asteroid threats
Dr Detlef Koschny, Head of NEO Segment, ESA Space Situational Awareness Programme
10:45 Finding asteroids & avoiding impacts: space agencies taking action to prevent future catastrophe
Dr Lindley Johnson, NEO Programs Executive, Science Mission Directorate, HQ NASA
11:00 Responding to asteroid threat scenarios - the importance of impact simulation exercises
Debbie Lewis, Director, Resilience Planning at Axiom (Alderney) Ltd.
11:15 Presentation of findings PDC 2015
Dr William Ailor, Distinguished Engineer, The Aerospace Corporation, PDC 2015 co-chair
Richard Tremayne-Smith, Advisor, The Secure World Foundation, PDC 2015 co-chair
11:45 Open Q&A
12:00 End of briefing; opportunities for individual interviews; small group visits to ESA’s NEO Coordination Centre
Media representatives wishing to attend the 16 April press briefing are requested to register via
Any media who have already registered for full access to PDC 2015 (http://bit.ly/pdc2015_media) are automatically registered for this briefing and need take no further action.
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, have signed Accession Agreements to the ESA Convention and will soon become new ESA Member States.
ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members,
ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, Navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int
For further information, please contact:
ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99
ESA Space Situational Awareness
Programme Communication Officer
Tel: +49 6151 90 0
International Academy of Astronautics
Fabrice Dennemont, email@example.com
Jean-Michel Contant, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel.: +33 1 47 23 82 15