Press workshop: Near-Earth objects and planetary defense

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Sponsored by NASA

How would we know if Earth was going to be impacted by an asteroid? Want to know more about finding and tracking near-Earth asteroids and determining when one might impact or just be a “close approach”? Interested in learning about plans for defending Earth against asteroid impacts?

NASA and its partners maintain a watch for near-Earth objects (NEOs), asteroids and comets that pass within Earth’s vicinity, as part of an ongoing effort to discover, catalog, and characterize these bodies and to determine if any pose an impact threat.

In this three-hour workshop hosted by NASA, experts will report on the methods and status of finding, tracking, and characterizing near-Earth objects (NEOs) and planning for planetary defense. Plenty of time will be provided for questions and discussion.

Journalists and science writers will have an opportunity to learn about such developments as:

  • Progress in ground-based optical and radar observations of near-Earth asteroids and comets.
  • Advances in modeling and understanding atmospheric, land, and water impacts of NEOs.
  • Current understanding of NEO characteristics.
  • NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test, the first mission that will demonstrate an asteroid deflection technique (the kinetic impactor).
  • Functions of the Minor Planet Center, the International Asteroid Warning System, and the Space Missions Planning Advisory Group.
  • The first test of the global asteroid-impact warning system and plans for a second test.
  • Interagency and international cooperation on planning for planetary defense.
  • The status of planning for a dedicated, space-based asteroid detection telescope.

Experts on hand will include:

  • NASA Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson
  • NASA NEO Observations Program Manager Kelly Fast
  • Former Minor Planet Center Director and NASA consultant Tim Spahr
  • NASA NEO Observations Program Scientist Michael Kelley
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory radar scientist Marina Brozovic
  • NASA Ames Research Center Advanced Supercomputing Division Deputy Chief Donovan Mathias

This press workshop is sponsored by NASA.


When: Sunday, 9 December 2018, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Where: AGU Fall Meeting conference venue. Exact location TBD.

Cost: Free! A box lunch will be provided.

Eligibility: Space for the workshop is limited. Staff journalists representing media organizations, freelance journalists, photographers, videographers, bloggers, podcasters, authors, and filmmakers will have first priority for registration. Registration to the AGU Fall Meeting is not required. If space is still available on the workshop one week before the meeting, NASA will open the workshop to public information officers and institutional science communicators. PIOs and institutional science communicators interested in attending can email Lajuan Moore at to be added to the waitlist.

Register: Reporters can register for the workshop here. All reporters planning to attend the workshop MUST preregister; no on-site registrations will be accepted.

Note: If you register for the workshop and are unable to attend, please cancel your registration as soon as possible so that NASA can make your spot available to another person.

Questions: Email Lajuan Moore at