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Bruce BettsApril 16, 2013

This Week at The Planetary Defense Conference

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

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.

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Read more: Planetary Society Projects, Shoemaker NEO Grants

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Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society
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