In the News...
As part of the ninth annual Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, Astronomer David Morrison, of NASA‚Äôs Ames Research Center, will present Taking a Hit: Asteroid Impacts & Evolution
, an illustrated, non-technical talk, Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m.
in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Admission is free and the public is invited. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking
Asteroids have hit the Earth many times, and they will continue to hit in the future, whether we are prepared or not. Collisions with our planet over 4.5 billion years have profoundly influenced the evolution of life. In fact, were it not for the impact of one 15-kilometer-wide asteroid 65 million years ago, it is likely humanity would not be here.
Asteroid impacts are important for our future as well as our past. In the last two decades we have learned not only how to evaluate the impact hazard but also (in principle) how to defend ourselves. The astronomers operating the Spaceguard Survey of Near-Earth Asteroids
have already reduced the risk of fatality from unknown asteroids by at least 75 percent. Unlike other natural hazards, we now have the capability of removing most of the impact risk within the next generation. However, the government still does not have a plan of action for when an asteroid is discovered heading our way or when an impact happens without warning.
One of the world‚Äôs experts on the study of asteroid impacts, David Morrison
is the senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute
, where he participates in a variety of research programs in the study of the living universe. He is the author of more than 155 technical papers and has published a dozen books, including several widely used college textbooks in astronomy. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his scientific and his educational work, including the Sagan Medal of the American Astronomical Society for public communication. A founder of the multidisciplinary field of astrobiology, Asteroid 2410 Morrison
is named in his honor‚Äîbut he assures us that it is not one of those that might hit the Earth.
The free lecture series is sponsored by the Foothill College Astronomy Program
, NASA Ames Research Center
, SETI Institute
and Astronomical Society of the Pacific
. Past lectures from the series are available in MP3-format online at www.astrosociety.org/education/podcast/index.html
Visitors must purchase a campus parking permit for $2 (eight quarters). Parking lots 1, 5, 6, 7 and 8 provide access to the theatre
. Foothill College is located on El Monte Road off Interstate 280. For more information, access www.foothill.edu
or call (650) 949-7888