PNW AIAA Section Awards & Recognition

June 24, 2021 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Virtual - registration required to get Zoom meeting information
Priscilla Khoury

This year’s Section Awards & Recognition event will be virtual. Please register to receive Zoom login information.

The presentation of the 2021 Engineer of the Year awards will be in the following categories:

  • Young Engineer of the Year
  • Industry Engineer of the Year
  • STEM Advocate of the Year

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Nahum Melamed presenting “Planetary Defense from Asteroids and Comets”

Dr. Nahum Melamed

Speaker Bio: Dr. Melamed is a project leader in the Embedded Control Systems Department in the Guidance and Control Subdivision at The Aerospace Corporation. He joined Aerospace in 2003. As a technical lead in Launch Vehicle Software, Melamed coordinates and guides a team of interdepartmental technical experts, and supports validation and mission readiness certification of the flight software and mission parameters for the Delta IV launch vehicles. He conducts planetary defense technical and policy studies, serves on planetary defense conferences, exercises organizing committees, and speaks at these venues.He earned a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech.

Abstract: Near-Earth objects (NEOs) are asteroids and comets that pose a local, regional or continental threat. The realization that asteroid impacts are a modern-day possibility followed analyses that proved many of the craters on Earth were caused by cosmic impacts rather than by gradual geological process or volcanic eruptions. In the 1980s researchers discovered that the demise of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago coincided with a major asteroid impact, and in 1994 observers recognized similar-sized impacts when fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smashed into Jupiter. If such an object were to hit Earth today, it could cause widespread devastation and profoundly affect life on Earth. Although major cosmic collisions with Earth are infrequent, their consequences could be severe. Hence, advanced planning is critical to mitigating future asteroid threats. And the best time to start preparing is now—well before any actual threat is detected.

Given this reality: What are the current risks? How would we deflect an asteroid or comet on a collision course with Earth? What are the technical and political risks? What are the obligations and strategic interests that would drive a decision to act? This talk describes results and answers to these questions gained from recent international planetary defense conferences and table-top exercises that examined threat responses, and from the latest scientific studies. The talk also highlights evolving public and educational outreach, new simulation tools, recent space missions, and actions at the United Nations that support planetary defense.

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