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Protecting our planet for potential asteroid strikes

The animation depicts a mapping of the positions of known near-Earth objects (NEOs) at points in time over the past 20 years, and finishes with a map of all known asteroids as of January 2018. Asteroid search teams supported by NASA's NEO Observations Program have found over 95 percent of near-Earth asteroids currently known. There are now over 18,000 known NEOs and the discovery rate averages about 40 per week. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The animation depicts a mapping of the positions of known near-Earth objects (NEOs) at points in time over the past 20 years, and finishes with a map of all known asteroids as of January 2018. Asteroid search teams supported by NASA's NEO Observations Program have found over 95 percent of near-Earth asteroids currently known. There are now over 18,000 known NEOs and the discovery rate averages about 40 per week. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Thursday marks World Asteroid Day, a U.N.-sanctioned campaign to raise awareness of the scientific opportunities, and planetary threats, posed by asteroids.

So we’re taking this week’s episode to explore asteroids. From the efforts to study them and track them to make sure they don’t slam into our own planet.

First, we’ll start here on Earth. We’ll speak with a planetary scientist Luisa Fernanda Zambrano-Marin about efforts to identify and track these asteroids using ground-based telescopes — before they become a threat to us here on Earth.

Then, we’ll talk with a the Planetary Society’s chief advocate and senior space policy advisor Casey Dreier calling for more funding for a space-based telescope to map our sky and track potential cosmic rocks on a collision course with our planet.

Protecting our planet from a catastrophic asteroid encounter — that’s ahead on Are We There Yet?.

Above image – The animation depicts a mapping of the positions of known near-Earth objects (NEOs) at points in time over the past 20 years, and finishes with a map of all known asteroids as of January 2018. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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The animation depicts a mapping of the positions of known near-Earth objects (NEOs) at points in time over the past 20 years, and finishes with a map of all known asteroids as of January 2018. Asteroid search teams supported by NASA's NEO Observations Program have found over 95 percent of near-Earth asteroids currently known. There are now over 18,000 known NEOs and the discovery rate averages about 40 per week. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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The animation depicts a mapping of the positions of known near-Earth objects (NEOs) at points in time over the past 20 years, and finishes with a map of all known asteroids as of January 2018. Asteroid search teams supported by NASA's NEO Observations Program have found over 95 percent of near-Earth asteroids currently known. There are now over 18,000 known NEOs and the discovery rate averages about 40 per week. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech