ASTEROID FLY-BY REMINDS ASTRONOMERS TO BE VIGILANT

Mountain View, CA. Last night, a city-block sized asteroid did a fly-by of the Earth-Moon system. While there was no danger to our planet, Near Earth Asteroid (NEO) 2012 LZ1 was watched carefully by astronomers who track NEOs.

“Near Earth Asteroid 2012 LZ1, which was discovered in at an observatory in Australia just a week ago, flew past Earth Thursday evening at 14 times the distance to the Moon” noted Dr. David Morrison of  the SETI Institute.  “What sets this asteroid apart from others that cruise past the Earth is its large size. If an asteroid this large hit our planet, it could wipe out an area the size of state. This asteroid is in no danger of hitting now or in the foreseeable future, but someday that may well be its fate. This is why it is called a “potentially hazardous” asteroid. Astronomers will watch it closely to improve out knowledge of its orbit and to make sure it is not coming our way again soon.”

Morrison is a world-renown expert on NEOs. He is director of the Carl Sagan Center for Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute, and former director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute and senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute, at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He is also the past Director of Space at NASA Ames. Morrison is credited as the founder of the multi-disciplinary field of astrobiology. Morrison is best known for his work in risk assessment of near Earth objects such as asteroids and comets. Asteroid 2410 Morrison was named in his honor for his work on the subject since 1991. Morrison also known for his "Ask an Astrobiologist" series on NASA’s website where he provides answers to questions submitted by the public about a variety of topics from 2012 doomsday hoaxes to planetary habitability discovery of extrasolar planets. He has published 12 books and over 150 papers primarily on Planetary Science, Astrobiology and Near Earth Object subjects

Morrison will be appearing at SETIcon II, a public conference hosted by the SETI Institute. He’s speaking on panels about asteroids, “Junkpiles or Resources for Future Generations” and “Cosmophobia: Doomsday and other Fiction Science”. SETIconII takes place June 22 – 24 at the Hyatt Santa Clara hotel in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, and will feature approximately 50 panel discussions, fireside chats, and lightning talks.  Eminent guests from the worlds of science and science-fiction will be presenting at this unique event. For more information and registration, go to: seticon.org

Accredited journalists wanting to attend SETIcon can sign up for complimentary press registration with Curtis Sparrer at curtis.sparrer@graylingcp.com


About SETI Institute

The Institute's mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations. We have a passion for discovery, and for sharing knowledge as scientific ambassadors to the public, the press, and the government.