Melancholia sos still

Peter Vereš

Astronomer + Research Scientist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Melancholia— DART – A successful planetary defense mission

Peter Veres, astronomer and research scientist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA, discusses how NASA astrophysicists devised and executed the recent DART(Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission, aimed at testing a method of planetary defense against near-Earth objects. It was designed to assess how much a spacecraft's impact deflects an asteroid through its transfer of momentum when hitting the asteroid head-on. Melancholia uses the spectre of an interplanetary collision to devastating dramatic effect, but in reality we have made a new leap forward in planetary defense.

Martha's Vineyard Film Society Tisbury, MA

Film Synopsis

Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.

    Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) celebrate their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of Justine’s sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law John (Kiefer Sutherland). Despite Claire’s best efforts, the wedding is a fiasco with family tensions mounting and relationships fraying. Meanwhile, a planet called Melancholia is heading directly towards Earth threatening the very existence of humankind...

    Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures

    About the Speaker

    Peter Vereš is an astronomer and research scientist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA and at the Minor Planet Center (MPC). He received his PhD at Comenius University in Slovakia. Since his graduate years, he was interested in minor bodies of the Solar system - asteroids, meteors and comets. He studied the physical properties, orbital parameters and size-frequency distribution of Near-Earth asteroids (NEOs) and the connection between NEOs and meteoroids. Since 2011, he worked at the University of Hawaii at Pan-STARRS, a new survey telescope, discovering numerous asteroids and comets. In 2015, he joined Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Center for NEO Studies, simulating performance of the future LSST (VRO) telescope in discovering NEOs. Since 2017, he is a staff scientist at MPC, the center that receives observations of asteroids and comets from all around the world, computes orbits, assigns designations to new objects and offers many services to the professional and amateur community.