Conference brings together experts in tracking, deflecting meteors

April 15, 2013

The 2013 Planetary Defense Conference begins Monday in Flagstaff. The event hopes to raise public awareness of threats to Earth and how we can respond. 

The conference, held on the Northern Arizona University campus, brings together experts on tracking and deflecting meteors headed our way. Dr. Bill Ailor is co-chair of the conference. He said we know where most large meteors are, but that we are not as good at tracking small ones, like the meteor that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia this year.

“That one was about 17 meters in diameter, and it’s those objects and larger, you know, up around 100 meters, 150 meters. Unfortunately, we don’t know where a lot of those are now," Ailor said. "The primary threat to the planet is not something that’s going to eliminate life here but more that would cause significant damage in a region.”

Ailor hopes to see planetary defense techniques and technology get more attention and funding. The conference will end with an exercise where attendees develop a response to a hypothetical threat from the skies.

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