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This Week at The Planetary Defense Conference

Newest winners in our Shoemaker NEO Grants program to be announced on Wednesday

Posted by Bruce Betts

16-04-2013 23:52 CDT

Topics: Planetary Society Projects, Shoemaker NEO Grants

I am at the International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference (PDC) in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The PDC is held every two years and brings together world experts in saving the world from asteroid impact.  The Planetary Society has long been a co-sponsor of the conference.  I find it to be one of the most interesting and useful and productive conferences of the ones I attend.

You can follow updates from me and asteroid random space facts on Twitter @RandomSpaceFact or search hashtag #pdc2013 for people updating more often.  You can get more info on the conference at 

You can also watch the conference itself live.  It is being live streamed at

On the one hand, the conference is specialized -- focused on the asteroid threat, but on the other hand, it brings together experts in all aspects of the problem: finding, tracking, and characterizing near Earth objects (NEOs), deflecting or disrupting dangerous asteroids (often called mitigation), impact effects, public education, and disaster response and management.  In fact, that is the nutshell of the program over five days.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday) we will have a public event at Northern Arizona University.  Though it will not be live streamed, we will post video within a few days afterward, and Planetary Radio will include portions of it this coming week.  Bill Nye, Mat Kaplan, and I will all be participating, including announcing the newest winners in our Shoemaker NEO Grants program.

Asteroid impact, though rare, is the only preventable natural disaster.  The Feb. 15, 2013 events: close flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 and the Chelyabinsk, Russia impactor, were reminders that these events are real.  There was a special session on Sunday night about Chelyabinsk and it was a dramatic warning from a “small” asteroid impact which damaged windows and buildings and injured more than 1000 people.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 and a satellite streak from Siding Spring Observatory
Asteroid 2012 DA14 and a satellite streak from Siding Spring Observatory
Image taken with Faulkes Telescope South operated by Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network.
See other posts from April 2013


Or read more blog entries about: Planetary Society Projects, Shoemaker NEO Grants


Marshall: 04/18/2013 08:07 CDT

Hi, Bruce. I appreciate your self control in repressing your sneeze during your exoplanet lecture. I must insert a correction: Your illustration of the Doppler effect in explaining the radial velocity method for exoplanet detection is wrong. You show the planet being between the star and the viewer when the starlight is blue-shifted (implying motion toward the viewer) and on the other side of its orbit when it is red-shifted (implying motion away from the viewer). Isn't the opposite true? If your illustration were correct, it wouldn't take long for the star and its planet to collide, as the two are shown to be continuously approaching each other. Don't they both orbit around their common center of gravity, so that when the planet is closer to the viewer the star is receding from the viewer, and therefor red-shifted (and on the opposite side of its orbit for blue-shifted)? I am a Planetary Society member.

Bob Ware: 04/24/2013 09:22 CDT

Hi - Bruce is right when he says red is away and blue is towards the viewer. Also keep in mind the color is the same for a stars rotation as well. I hope that helps.

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Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


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