Asteroid Day: Global Awareness of Our Closest Cosmic Neighbors

Asteroid Day is a global awareness movement where people from around the world come together to learn about asteroids and what we can do to protect our planet. Observed 107 years to the day of the Siberian Tunguska event, a 200 to 600 ft asteroid that exploded around 6 miles high in the atmosphere with the strength of 1000 Hiroshima atomic bombs of Hiroshima on top of an uninhabited forest.

Although asteroids would seem like mere rocks floating in space, they are actually objects of great importance for astronomers, geologists, planetary scientists, among others. On the evolutionary field, they are pristine objects from the dawn of the Solar System, building blocks of planets, moons and comets that never came to be. They maintain their original chemical composition that speaks to us about how our solar neighborhood was like 4.5 billion years ago. The preferred term is “minor planet,” as asteroid was never well defined with the International Astronomical Union, the main worldwide body that supervises naming, definitions and astronomical discoveries. Asteroids are irregular objects either from shattered remnants of bodies within the Solar System or individual objects that never grew large enough to become planets and that do not present the characteristics of comets.

Also on the evolutionary field, but that which concerns living organisms on Earth, they have tilted the balance. At least three big mass extinctions during Earth’s past has been associated with meteor (asteroids reaching Earth’s surface) collisions . The most famous one happened 66 million years ago, impacting in present-day Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, wiping out the dinosaurs. But mass extinctions in the Carboniferous (305 million years ago), Triassic-Jurassic (200 million years ago) and Palaeogene (40 million years ago) eras have been related with impacts. How do we estimate this? Asteroids abundantly hold an element —> Read More