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On 30 June 1908, a meteor with a diameter of up to 180 metres exploded in the atmosphere above Tunguska, Russia. The blast levelled trees and killed all animals within 1,200km2. 107 years later, a group of scientists, astronauts and others have come together to launch Asteroid Day – a global awareness movement that seeks to protect the Earth from future impacts.

Our planet has been battered by space rocks throughout its history, but the organisers of Asteroid Day are hoping to muster support for efforts to prevent impacts that pose a risk to life. 'Employing available technology to detect, track and defend our Earth from dangerous asteroid impacts is something we know how to do,' they explain. 'We have the knowledge as well as the technology to prevent these future catastrophic events.'

Asteroids have set off mass extinctions at least twice in Earth’s history. But should we be worried that another strike is imminent? In our December 2014 issue, Joseph M. Hilbe and Jamie Riggs assessed the risks of a devastating meteor impact occurring this century. To mark Asteroid Day, we have made that article – along with the entirety of our Astrostatistics section – free to read for the next 30 days.

Click here to read and download the articles in PDF format.

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