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Mexico Calling

Andrés Eloy Martínez Rojas

Over the course of the next weeks we are planning on highlighting some of the people involved in Asteroid Day, from independent international organisers, experts on asteroids, to key participants in our live broadcast from Luxembourg on June 30.

Today, we are kicking off with Andrés Eloy Martínez Rojas, a Mexican astronomer and regional coordinator of Asteroid Day Mexico. Yesterday, he spoke to Mexican newspaper La Jornada about his involvement in the global event and the search for near-earth objects in Mexico.

Involvement in Mexican Legislation

Andrés Martínez has been a strong advocate of space threats in his country’s civil defense plan. In 2013, he took the lead on proposing a legislative project that treats space hazards as another, new type of natural disaster. His initiative was passed into Mexican law in 2014, establishing a plan of action to monitor solar activity and detect solar flares that could cause communication problems or knock out the entire electric grid. The new law set up measures to safeguard telecommunications systems, public safety and supply lines in an emergency. The same year, Andrés Martínez founded SCiESMEX, the Mexican space weather service, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico to observe such phenomena and operate an early warning system.

Being prepared

But Andrés Martínez does not believe in fear mongering. To him, planetary defense is about preparedness, treating impacts just like any other natural disaster: “It’s not about causing irrational panic. Fortunately, asteroid and meteoroid impacts don’t occur frequently.” Governments should nevertheless use our technological capacities to detect and track these objects, and eventually develop capabilities to deflect them to avoid future disasters, he told the newspaper. “This could be the biggest achievement of humankind.” Explaining why Mexico’s civil defense law (Ley General de Protección Civil) he worked on is close to his heart, Andrés Martínez stated that in a Mexican context an impact of a comparatively small Tunguska-sized meteoroid in the Zócalo main square in Mexico City, would affect an area of 10 km in all directions. “We need to be prepared for this. In many countries there are response protocols for these cases. Mexico only created the ‘astronomical risk’ category in their civil defense plan last year. Through its geophysical institute, the National Autonomous University of Mexico has installed cameras all across the country to keep an eye on meteoroids crossing the sky.”

Public participation

The astronomer also pointed out that anyone interested can take part in monitoring space, all they need is a medium-sized telescope with an 8 cm aperture, and a lot of patience. “Robotic telescopes search the sky for asteroids autonomously already. Unfortunately, due to their price of more than 40 million pesos (1,949,572 euros or 2,128,351 US dollars) they are not accessible to the majority of the population. Therefore, I believe that projects like Asteroid Day can help to expand the network of observers in Mexico.”

If you want to learn about Asteroid Day in Mexico or take part in a local event, please visit our dedicated Asteroid Day Mexico page. To read the entire Spanish La Jornada article about Andrés Eloy Martínez Rojas, follow this link.

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We want YOU !

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Last October we started recruiting regional coordinators. These are individuals, organisations and groups of people who coordinate Asteroid Day activities in their own regions. As of today (April 16, 2017) we have over 187 coordinators across 114 countries. That is a fantastic achievement and I am very proud of the work these coordinators do every day. We have a dedicated email group and we meet once a week via teleconference to keep each other updated.

There are still quite a few regions where we need coordinators. Below is a list. If you are interested in this position or know someone who would be perfect for this role then please send an email to info@asteroidday.org.

HERE is our Coordinator Guide which details the work our coordinators do.

Here is a list of regions WITHOUT a regional coordinator:

Algeria
Andorra
Antigua and Barbuda
Armenia
Australia
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belize
Benin
Bhutan
Botswana
Brunei Darussalam
Bulgaria
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Caribbean
Central African Republic
Chad
China
Comoros
Congo
Cote D’Ivoire
Czech Republic
Djibouti
Domincan Republic
Dominica
East Timor
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Estonia
Fiji
Gabon
Gambia
Georgia
Grenada
Guinea
Guinea Bissau
Guyana
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
Jamaica
Kansas
Kiribati
Kosovo
Kyrgyzstan
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Lebanon
Lesotho
Liberia
Liechtenstein
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Marshall Islands
Mauritania
Mauritius
Micronesia
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Myanmar
Namibia
Nauru
Netherlands
Niger
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Palau
Palestine
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Poland
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
Suriname
Swaziland
Switzerland
Syria
Timor-Leste
Togo
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkmenistan
Tuvalu
Vanuatu
Vatican
Viet Nam
Yemen
Zambia
Zimbabwe
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Christmas Rocks

1999 VV-001_c_d+59_star cross copy
Today’s blog post is brought to you by Daniel Bamberger from Marburg, Germany. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysTgaiv7EA0?rel=0&showinfo=0] Hi there everyone! I am Daniel Bamberger, and with my
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