In the last few years, several known near-Earth asteroids shot closely past the Earth, while on October 6, 2008 a small asteroid was discovered less than 20 hours prior to its impact with the Earth's atmosphere over northern Sudan. Dr. Yeomans will outline what recent spacecraft investigations have told us about the enormous population of comets and asteroids that inhabit the Earth's neighborhood. These near-Earth objects are key for understanding the origin of the solar system as well as the origin and evolution of life itself. Periodic Earth impacts have punctuated the evolution of life on Earth, including wiping out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Since 1998, NASA has had an observing program to discover these objects and track their future motions to insure that we humans will not go the way of the dinosaurs.
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For more information, contact Stephanie Shaw at 301-975-2667.
Colloquia are videotaped and available in the NIST Research Library.