For the third annual World Asteroid Day on Friday, UCF physics Professor Humberto Campins is teaming up with friend and astronaut Tom Jones for a special presentation at Kennedy Space Center beginning at 1:30 p.m.
They will talk to the public about the importance of learning everything possible about asteroids. Asteroids represent a danger and a promise for earth. Asteroids could hit the planet causing mass destruction, which is why NASA operates a Planetary Defense Coordination Office that monitors asteroids. On the flip side, asteroids could be key in understanding how the solar system formed and may hold valuable resources that would make travel beyond the moon more accessible.
Jones, who flew aboard four space shuttle missions, will discuss planetary defense and Campins will give an update on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to recover a sample of near-earth asteroid Bennu. Campins, who was on the first team to discover water on an asteroid in 2010, is a co-investigator on the OSIRIS-REx mission. The spacecraft that will rendezvous with Bennu in 2018 launched from Florida in September.
Scientists and space enthusiasts started World Asteroid Day in 2015 to raise awareness about the dangers and potential benefits of asteroids. In December, the United Nations declared June 30 International Asteroid Day to coincide with World Asteroid Day.