Protecting the UK from the risks of Asteroids also presents opportunities

UK Space News

30th June is Asteroid Day, an annual UN-sanctioned global awareness campaign where people learn how we can protect the Earth from asteroids.

On Asteroid Day events take place all around the world to educate the public about the risks and opportunities that asteroids present.

While studying for her MSc in Risk, Crisis, and Disaster at the University of Leicester Debbie Lewis became interested in asteroids.

I became aware of the hazard posed by near-Earth objects (NEOs) in 2004 with asteroid 99942 Apophis. My interest deepened during a visit to the UK National Space Centre.” Debbie said.

Debbie Lewis is now an Asteroid Day science advisor and has worked alongside Professor Brian Cox and Dr Brian May to protect our planet.

Mitigating NEO hazards involves detecting large asteroids, studying potentially hazardous ones, and having defence strategies like kinetic impactors, gravity tractors, and civil protection arrangements.

In 2022 NASA’s DART mission successfully altered the orbit of asteroid Dimorphos demonstrating the feasibility of kinetic impacts future planetary defence strategies.

Debbie aims to have the NEO hazard recognised in the UK’s National Risk Register and National Security Risk Assessment, enabling necessary preparedness arrangements.

In 2021 I contributed to the House of Lords report on preparing for extreme risks, in the hope that the hazard would be legitimised so that the required preparedness arrangements for mitigation could commence.

Asteroids also have massive amounts of valuable minerals and metals. The asteroid belt alone holds about $100 billion worth for each person on earth.

Turning the risks asteroids represent into opportunities requires countries like the UK to develop a significant space sector.

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