Eastbourne, East Sussex BN20 9HT
Minor Bodies of the Solar System: Origins, Interrelationships and Impacts Through Time – Professor Mark E. Bailey – Director of the Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland
The minor bodies of the Solar System, principally comets and asteroids and their meteoric or meteoritic debris, have played an important role in stimulating mankind’s understanding of astronomy and Earth’s near-space environment from the earliest times. This talk, which divides naturally into two main parts, will focus on the story of the origin of comets, which play a major role in our understanding both of the origin of our Solar System, and of Earth’s place in space and the evolution of Earth’s near-space environment. One of the key outstanding issues remains how to quantify the time-variable risk posed by so-called ‘small’ Solar System bodies (comets, asteroids, `boulders’ and interplanetary dust) in collision with the Earth. The talk will review our ideas about the origin and evolution of these bodies from the earliest times up to the present day, and seek to put into context some of the most recent discoveries and ideas about comets.