Planetary Defense (the Film)

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Planetary Defense (the Film)

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"Planetary Defense" reviews current efforts to mitigate threats to Earth from catastrophic impacts by asteroids and comets. Features leading scientists, military officials and futurists; including Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, Freeman Dyson, David H. Levy and many more.

‘Planetary Defense’ - nominated for a 2008 Sir Arthur Clarke Award (The British 'Oscars®' for Space Achievements) alongside Ron Howard's ‘In the Shadow of the Moon’. Fellow nominees include Stephen Hawking and Sir Richard Branson. Here is the formal invitation.

"Without exaggeration, I can say this is one of the most important documentaries made. You may quote me on this."

-Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Author, "2001: A Space Odyssey" commenting on "Planetary Defense"

Broadcast on TV worldwide by United Nations Television.

Nominated for a 2008 Sir Arthur Clarke Award.

Read ALL the Reviews.

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"It's fascinating - you have done an excellent job in blending the scientific, technological, political and military aspects of NEO threats. I cannot agree with you more that it's not if; it's just a matter of when!

I'm amazed and impressed to see how you have done practically all the production and editing work by yourself...

Without exaggeration, I can say this is one of the most important documentaries made. You may quote me on this."

-Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Author, "2001: A Space Odyssey"

For more about Nominations, Educational Reviews and Press about "Planetary Defense" please visit the Press page.

Who will save Earth?

Scientists and the military have only recently awakened to the notion that impacts with Earth do happen. "Planetary Defense" meets with both the scientific and military communities to study our options to mitigate an impact from asteroids and comets, collectively known as NEO's (Near Earth Objects).

“Civilization is ill prepared for the inevitable. It's not if an impact will happen with the Earth, it's when!”

Planetary Defense (the film) features:

David Morrison (NASA AMES)

Duncan Steel (Space Researcher, Author)

Brigadier General Simon P. Worden (USAF, Retired)

Donald K. Yeomans (NASA Manager, JPL NEO Program)

Clark Chapman (SwRI)

Daniel Scheeres (University of Michigan)

Michael A'Hearn (Deep Impact, Principal Investigator, University of Maryland)

Steven Ostro (JPL, Radar Research)

Grant Stokes (LINEAR)

Alan W. Harris (DLR, Berlin)

Alan W. Harris (SSI)

Robert J. Whiteley (University of Arizona)

Richard Binzel (MIT)

Michael Belton (BSEI, Belton Space Exploration Initiatives)

Special Guests Include:

Sir Arthur C. Clarke (Author, "2001: A Space Odyssey")

Freeman J. Dyson (Physicist Emeritus, Princeton)

David H. Levy (Co-Disoverer of 'Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9' which impacted with Jupiter in 1994)

Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9 astronaut, Chairman ASE Committee on NEO's)

December 2007 Reviews from:

1. Library Journal (New York City)

2. Booklist (Chicago)

Television Broadcasts (to date):

"Planetary Defense" has just had it's World Premiere on United Nations TV in New York City and via the United Nations web cast to the rest of the world.

2007 marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1, the 50th Session of the UN Committee of the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the 40th anniversary of the UN's Outer Space Treaty. 2007 was also declared International Geophysical Year.

The UN's decision to broadcast and web cast "Planetary Defense" was intended to help celebrate these special anniversaries and reflects the global nature of the NEO collision hazard.

Planetary Defense had it's Canadian premiere on CFCF-TV (the CTV Network) in Montreal, Quebec. It premiered on June 24, 2009 in Montreal. Nine more broadcasts planned in Canada!

Planetary Defense Clip - Apophis

Planetary Defense - Reviews and Comments (in Chronological Order)

View All Reviews (as .pdf)

Here are some of the first comments about "Planetary Defense":

It's wonderful! It's very powerful and very professionally done. A real attention-grabber and holder. I hope it is widely disseminated, and soon. Nice work!

Steve Ostro, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, April 17, 2007

I think the movie looks great and makes its point very effectively. Your presentation is very well balanced and gets the physics and engineering right. Congratulations on what must be a true labor of love!

Dan Scheeres, University of Michigan, April 19, 2007

"There have been many documentaries on this topic over the years, but none have been so error-free as yours. This is due, in part, because you have filmed the real experts and have told the story in their own words."

Clark Chapman, SouthWest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado, April 20, 2007

I just watched your film -- congratulations! I'll certainly recommend it to the readers of NEO News.

David Morrison, NASA Ames Research Center, Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazard Office, California, May 2, 2007

Thanks for the preview. We enjoyed it a lot and were happy to see so much of our footage brought to good use in your movie. Good luck with the distribution!

Lars Lindberg Christensen (MSc) • PIO/Head of Communication ESA/Hubble, May 3, 2007

"Great stuff. This is a brilliant documentary: concise, precise, and authoritative."

Duncan Steel, Space Scientist and Author, May 6, 2007

I'm very impressed with what I've seen. You've edited it well and paid attention to detail, without compromising on suspense. It should enter the public domain as soon as possible!

Alan W. Harris, DLR, Berlin, May 7, 2007


Your production is the best there is regarding NEOs, the threat of impact, and what might be done about it.

Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 Astronaut; Chairman, ASE-NEO Committee; Chairman B-612 Foundation, May 21, 2007

Dear M,

Yes, I have received your DVD, and played it this morning. It's fascinating - you have done an excellent job in blending the scientific, technological, political and military aspects of NEO threats. I cannot agree with you more that it's not if; it's just a matter of when!

Without exaggeration, I can say this is one of the most important documentaries made. You may quote me on this.

The current worldwide scare about climate change is certainly a valid concern. But we must not allow these terrestrial concerns to distract political attention -- or resources -- from preparing for very real dangers we face from outer space. How ironic it would be to mobilise billions of dollars to contain global warming, if our planet is then battered by what I once called 'The Hammer of God'!

I'm very pleased with what you have made of my own interview - that was done quite sometime ago! And I know several others you've interviewed: Duncan Steel, Rusty Schweickart and Pete Worden among them. I'm amused by Pete's reference to the 'giggle factor', which has held back progress in other important technologies, including the Space Elevator. But I'm glad that no one is laughing about that, or NEOs, any longer.

I like your chapter heading "the Space Guardians". They have been active for a number of years on several continents, but it's hard to get politicians to focus on a threat whose time horizon is too long, or too unpredictable. I'm copying this to Jonathan Tate, Director of Spaceguard UK, who's struggling to revive NEO research interest in Europe. Jay and his colleagues will find your film a very valuable educational and advocacy tool.

I was particularly interested in your discussion on various 'mitigation' options and technologies. I share Michael Belton's view that we won't know for sure what could work until some testing is done. And I'm intrigued by the prospect of using solar sails for NEO deflection - I've always been interested in solar sails for space propulsion, but this opens up new possibilities!

I'm amazed and impressed to see how you have done practically all the production and editing work by yourself, and hope some Canadian or US foundations would consider reimbursing your costs.

Thanks for crediting Rohan de Silva for his filming - I found some sections of the end credits hard to read as they roll on near-white backgrounds. You might want to fix this.

When is this film going to be released? Is there broadcast interest? This is a film that should be seen as widely as possible. I'm ccing to Tedson Meyers, who heads the very modestly-funded Arthur C Clarke Foundation, for his ideas on maximising outreach.

All good wishes,


PS: A minor point: I don't consider myself a physicist - I studied physics and mathematics at King's College, London, nearly 60 years ago, but I've always seen myself as an author!

- Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Author (of many books including) “2001: A Space Odyssey”, Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 23, 2007

“A brilliant, original and creative look at the danger Earth faces from space."

David H. Levy, Jarnac Observatory, Tucson, Arizona, May 23, 2007

“Planetary Defense, the film, is a documentary that explores how ill-prepared we are to prevent our own extinction from asteroid and comet impacts. They interviewed all the right people, asked them all the right questions, and leaves the viewer scared for our future, but empowered to do something about it.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist and Frederick P. Rose Director, American Museum of Natural History, NYC, May 24, 2007

Having seen many programmes on the NEO theme, and having been in quite a few, yours is really one of the best - factually accurate (unusual) and with a definite theme (also unusual). You picked excellent people, and you have summarised the NEO situation extremely well!

I have been involved with a number of documentaries, ranging from the BBC to Indian and Estonian TV, your production wins hands-down! A good structure, good people saying good things, and a good message.

Jay Tate, Director of the Spaceguard Centre, UK, May 25, 2007

NEO News (06/26/07) Congressional Hearings & Tunguska

This edition of NEO News deals with four topics: (1) a request for a Congressional hearing on NEOs; (2) a new paper suggesting that a fragment of Tunguska hit the ground; (2) a news report on the continuing controversy that surrounds the NASA NEO Report; and (4) a NEO documentary by SpaceViz (Space Viz).

(4) Finally, I note that a one-hour documentary by Space Viz Productions (Space Viz) called "Planetary Defense", will be webcast by the United Nations on Saturday, June 30th, at 8 PM (EDT) on UN Television (in New York on Channel 78) and worldwide on their web cast. "Planetary Defense" is built around interviews with many of the leading scientists working on NEOs and on various aspects of NEO hazard mitigation. This film can also be accessed at: and purchased in DVD form.

David Morrison, NEO News (now in its thirteenth year of distribution) is an in- formal compilation of news and opinion dealing with Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and their impacts. These opinions are the responsibility of the individual authors and do not represent the positions of NASA, the International Astronomical Union, or any other organization.

Varied Library Journal Reviews

Planetary Defense. May 2007. Space Viz Productions (Space Viz), DVD, $49.99

This fascinating program introduces the concept of NEO (Near Earth Objects). Various scientists, science fiction authors (including Arthur C. Clarke), and military spokesmen discuss the probability of asteroids and comets colliding with our planet as well as the potential devastation this would bring. Apparently, asteroids and comets possibly colliding with Earth is not such a far-fetched idea as NASA scientists track a high amount of asteroids to determine their composition and path of travel. Interviewed experts show how to chart and compare data, and specialists speculate on methods of heading off approaching NEOs. Inter-cutting the interviews are space footage and computer graphics worthy of Star Wars films. Although interview segments vary in technical quality, this compelling documentary is a reminder that our planet is a small component of a vast universe, and we are not always in control of our destiny.

-Candace Smith, Reviewer for Booklist Chicago, Issue: December 15, 2007 (read the original review in .pdf format)

Planetary Defense. color. 48 min., SpaceViz (Space Viz), 2007. DVD $49.99. Astronomy.

If terrorism, the economy, and global warming weren’t enough to worry about, this documentary takes worry to a whole new level—planetary extinction! It brings together eminent scientists, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, and legendary sf writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke to focus serious attention on the possibility of a catastrophic collision between Earth and an asteroid or other astronomical object. It presents evidence of previous impacts, the possible effect of various collision scenarios, and what actions could be taken to avert such a calamity. The documentary is especially good at showing how scientists are researching the problem and what policy constraints need to be overcome to mount a realistic planetary defense. It presents animations of impacts and scenes of scientific work in a visually appealing, fast-paced manor reminiscent of the Discovery Channel. Clarke and numerous scientists appear on screen. The program is formatted for broadcast with commercial breaks. Recommended for astronomical and popular science collections in all libraries.

Lawrence R. Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA, Reviewer for The Library Journal New York CIty, Issue: Dec 15, 2007 (visit the actual review page).

View All Reviews (as .pdf)

Planetary Defense Meetings

This NOAA meeting, "Workshop on Scientific Requirements for Mitigation of Hazardous Comets and Asteroids" was sponsored by NASA. This is the NEO mitigation meeting where we filmed our interviews.

The "Final Report" from the meeting we attended can be viewed here.

Since that time, there have been other similar meetings to discuss NEO mitigation techniques.

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