The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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Malta International Symposium On Near Earth Hazardous Asteroids

Malta Independent Tuesday, 13 October 2009, 00:00 Last update: about 16 years ago

NASA will be represented at a five-day Malta symposium by scientists who will discuss Near Earth Hazardous Asteroids, being held by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture to mark the World Day of Astronomy.

The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), represented by the Space Research Institute, Institute of Astronomy and Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics in cooperation with the European Space Agency are co-organisers of the symposium.

The subject of the symposium, to be held between 12 and 16 October, was chosen due to the increased interest in the problem not only in the scientific community but in society at large.

The organisers said the interest has increased after the discovery in 2005 of the asteroid which has been named Apophis (Greek God of horror and darkness). This asteroid passed the Earth on a dangerously close distance and in the near future will repeat close approaches to the Earth approximately every seven years. In 2029 a very close approach of about 40,000km is predicted. But for the following approach to the Earth in 2036 it is very difficult to predict the parameters of the fly by Earth “and collision with the Earth cannot be surely excluded”, the organisers said.

Apophis is estimated to be about 270m in size and a collision with Earth would result in catastrophic consequences. The problem becomes even more serious because the number of asteroids similar to Apophis, in terms of mass and orbit, is estimated to be more than 40,000. Only about 1,600 of them are discovered up to now.

The aim of the symposium is to find approaches and possible means to deal with the problem.

About 20 papers are to be reported during the symposium, related to the studies of the different technologies and methods of improving the existing practice to detect hazardous asteroids and determine their orbital parameters as the physical characteristics.

More than 25 scientists from different organisations and countries will attend and present their papers. Besides the RAS institutes there will be the representatives of ESA, NASA, Institute of Astronomy of France, Universities of USA, Europe, Russia (Tomsk State University in Siberia for example), and Ukraine. Saudi Arabia will be represented by the King Saud Science Centre.

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