the threat posed to the earth by asteroids and comets, otherwise known as NEOs
(near earth objects), becomes reality, it will be University of Leicester rather
than Bruce Willis who will be in the frontline, fighting for the safety of the
Easter 2002 a government-backed facility, the first of its kind, will open at
the National Space Centre in Leicester to provide the general public with
information on the perennial threat of NEOs.
issue has sprung to national attention in recent months with 2001 YB5 asteroid
passing the earth by the relatively small distance of 830 000km on January 7th
2002, having only been discovered by satellites a month previously.
Ken Pounds, head of the University of Leicester Department of Physics and
Astronomy, which is directly linked to the specialist Space Science Research
Unit (SSRU) wing of the National Space Centre, describes the University's role
in the establishing of this new facility as "fundamental".
said: "The University manages the SSRU, providing offices, satellite suites
and professional backing for the staff at Abbey Meadow. This make projects such
the information centre for NEOs possible.
the reasoning behind the centre, Professor Pounds echoed the sentiments of
Science Minister Lord Sainsbury saying: "A number of issues including CJD,
BSE and Foot and Mouth concern the public. It was felt that it was time that
more was done to provide information about the threat of NEOs".
is believed that the new facility, based at the widely visited space attraction
at Abbey Meadow, which was co-founded by the University of Leicester, coupled
with the National Space Centre website would allay public fears and provide
accurate information on this topic of global concern.
will be backed by £300,000 over three years from government funds and experts
will assess the risks of any potentially hazardous objects. Joining scientists
from the University of Leicester will be colleagues from the Natural History
Museum, Queen's University, Belfast, Queen's Mary College, London and the Royal
For more information on the National Space Centre, the threat of NEOs or
the university's role in other groundbreaking projects, access the National
Space Centre's website on www.nssc.co.uk or
go to www.nearearthobjects.com
More information about the Physics and Astronomy at the University of
Leicester on www.le.ac.uk/physics or www.star.le.ac.uk
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