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Dr. Detlef Koschny

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Detlef Koschny was born in Pfarrkirchen, Lower Bavaria, in 1962. He received his master's degree in aerospace engineering in 1988. After spending a couple years in industry working on instrumentation for the German Spacelab D-2 mission, he went back to the university and received a Ph.D. in planetary sciences in 1994. He worked as a technical manager for different space-based cameras at the Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. In 1997, he joined the European Space Agency as a scientist working for Rosetta. Until 2007, he was building up the science ground segments for different ESA planetary missions. Since 2008, he has been working as Study Scientist for science missions to the Moon and small solar system bodies. In addition, he is the manager of the near-Earth object segment within ESA's Space Situational Awareness programme (SSA-NEO).

He always kept his involvement in space-based camera systems. He leads the team flying the 'Descent Camera' DECA on the ExoMars 2016 Entry, Descent, and Landing Demonstrator. His research interests are small bodies in the solar system and he has a number of publications related to meteors and asteroids.

As manager of ESA's SSA-NEO programme, he is involved in many activities related to the observation and follow-up of potentially threatening near-Earth objects. He is involved in asteroid observations, the assessment of how dangerous they are, and coordinates the ESA team working on this topic. He is also actively involved in implementing the UN-sanctioned guidelines on how to react to a possible asteroid impact threat.


Whom do you call when you see an asteroid coming?

In 2008, ESA started activities related to possibly threatening asteroids bybuilding up a so-called near-Earth object segment within their Space Situational Awareness programme, in short SSA-NEO. Within SSA-NEO, a NEO Coordination Centre has been set up at ESAs site in Italy, ESRIN. ESA is supporting work related to possible asteroid deflection missions, impact effects, orbit propagation tools and more. But a very important aspect of this topic is the human side. What should be the communication and decision chains in case a threatening asteroid would really be detected? A recommendation on how to react in case of a possible imminent impact threat has been discussed for many years within the so-called Action Team 14 on NEOs, sanctioned by the United Nations Committee for Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. This recommendation has been endorsed by the General Assembly of the UN in December 2013. ESA is taking an active role in this discussion and has started to coordinate its activities with national emergency response agencies. The presentation will outline the envisaged response strategy and present the status of its implementation. While we may not yet precisely know whom to call when an asteroid approaches, we at least now have a mechanism in place to find out...

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