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The NEO Hazard: NASA and Planetary Defense

by Imiloa Astronomy Center on February 23rd, 2017

A Presentation by Rob Landis and Dr. Kelly Fast

Date: Sat. March 11
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $10, $8 for members

Near-Earth Objects or ‘NEOs’ are leftover bits of solar system jetsam and flotsam that have been nudged into orbit around the Earth, allowing them to come within our close vicinity. NASA recently established a new office to coordinate planetary defense-related activities to mitigate the hazard of potential impact by such asteroids. Learn more about possible asteroid impacts, and NASA protection efforts at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s upcoming astronomy talk with Rob Landis and Dr. Kelly Fast on Saturday, March 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Photo: Time-lapse image of a retrograde Oort cloud comet NASA/JPL-Caltech

The creation of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) is a logical extension of NASA’s NEO Observations programs, which began nearly two decades ago. Since that program’s inception in 1998, NASA-funded endeavors have discovered more than 98% of all new NEOs. Observatories on Hawai‘i Island and Maui are key to these discoveries and help us better understand the makeup of these celestial vagabonds in our neighborhood.


In their presentation, Fast and Landis will share current efforts to detect, track, and characterize comets and asteroids that come close to Earth. They will also discuss the steps that NASA plans to take to deflect a potential asteroid on an impact trajectory.


Landis is currently assigned to the NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and is an engineer within the Planetary Science Division, Science Mission Directorate. He’s had a varied career on several NASA space missions including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn (and Titan), the Mars Exploration Rovers and the International Space Station. He received his B.S. in Astrophysics from Michigan State University and his M.S. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota.


Dr. Fast manages the Near-Earth Object Observations Program in NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, where she is also the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) Program Scientist. Fast earned her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Maryland. She studied the atmospheres of Mars, Jupiter and Titan as an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center before coming to NASA Headquarters in 2011.



General admission tickets are $10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply). Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at 808-932-8901.

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