Curious about the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge to “discover all asteroids that could threaten human populations and find out how to deal with them”? NASA is sponsoring a series of virtual seminars on the properties of Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) and what is being done to learn more about the hazards and the opportunities they may pose for us here on Earth. The purpose is to inform interested astronomers (both amateur and professional), students, teachers, and others who are potentially interested in contributing to studies of NEAs. Each seminar will focus on some aspect of the asteroid population, how we discover and track NEAs, and what we need to know about them if we are ever required to change the orbit of a NEA that is an impact threat.
The seminar format will be a 40-minute talk by an asteroid expert followed by 20 minutes for questions from the audience. They will be broadcast over the Internet. The audience will watch, listen and post questions by Adobe Connect using an Internet connection and a web browser.
Daniel Britt is a Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences at the Department of Physics, University of Central Florida (UCF). He was educated at the University of Washington and Brown University, receiving a Ph.D. in Geology from Brown in 1991. He has had a varied career including service in the US Air Force as an ICBM missile launch officer and an economist before going into geology and planetary sciences. He has served on the science teams of two NASA missions, Mars Pathfinder and Deep Space 1. He was the project manager for the camera on Mars Pathfinder and has built hardware for all the NASA Mars landers. He currently does research on asteroids, comets, Mars, and climate change under several NASA grants. Honors include 5 NASA Achievement Awards, election as a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society, and an asteroid; 4395 DanBritt. He has recently served as President of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society and is currently the Director of the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science based at UCF.
Title: Physical Properties of Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs)
Abstract: What we know about the physical properties of NEAs depends not only on observations of these objects, but also the study of meteorites and meteors. Taken together, these sources are telling us a story of how NEAs formed, how they evolved over the age of the solar system, and what their current state and structure may be as we continue robotic, and potentially human, exploration of these objects. Asteroids in general and NEAs in particular, have turned out to be far more complex and interesting then the cold lumps of rock that many of us originally expected. These objects have complex collisional histories, varied structures, and a surprising range of physical properties that provide data about the early solar system as well as insight into the hazards of asteroid impacts and the challenges we will face during exploration. I will review what is known from our varied sources and paint a picture about what to expect in future asteroid encounters.