The subject of near-Earth asteroids is drawing scientists, engineers and policymakers from around the world to Flagstaff’s High Country Conference Center for the Planetary Defense Conference on April 15-19.
Two events are free and open to the public, according to David Trilling, assistant professor of astronomy at Northern Arizona University and local organizer of the conference.
At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 14, there will be a special pre-conference session on the Chelyabinsk (Russia) impact event of Feb. 15. On that day, a 15-meter object exploded in the atmosphere over a city of 1 million people. Several experts will discuss the impact and what scientists have learned. This free session will include ample time for questions.
Once the conference is under way, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye The Science Guy will discuss planetary defense at NAU’s Prochnow auditorium. Nye, an internationally known speaker, comedian, author, scientist and media personality, will be joined by Geoff Notkin of the Science Channel’s Meteorite Men.
Tickets to the event became available this week; no seats remain, but organizers hope to secure overflow seating with a live video feed.
The entire Wednesday night public session, including questions from the audience, will be posted online, with excerpts to air on Planetary Radio.