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NASA Scientist Studying Asteroids And Comets Approaching Earth Speaking On South Coast

Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
NEOWISE captured this image of a comet as it swept across the skies

A NASA scientist, who will be visiting the South Coast, runs a mission that studies asteroids and comets approaching Earth.

Amy Mainzer is a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. She’s the principal investigator of NEOWISE, which is an orbiting space telescope that surveys for asteroids and comets that get close to Earth.

“These are extremely ancient rocks. They’ve been around since the formation of the solar system. So, they’re little time capsules,” she said.

While it’s rare for asteroids or comets to impact Earth, it could happen. And that’s why part of her research focuses on finding them.

“We found most of the really big ones – the ones capable of causing global consequences. But there are still many objects – about three-quarters of the objects – capable of causing pretty bad regional consequences that we still haven’t found," she said. 

Mainzer will be speaking at a free event at Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara this Wednesday evening. It’s hosted by Las Cumbres Observatory.