Newswise — If an asteroid is heading to Earth, David Trilling is the guy to call—not to stop it, which still remains the purview of Bruce Willis, but to explain how big it is, how close it is and just how much danger Earth is in from the space rock hurdling toward it.

Trilling is an astronomy professor at Northern Arizona University; he studies the evolution of the solar system, planetary sciences and near-Earth asteroids. His research focuses on the asteroids that come near Earth, studying their size, temperature and ability to reflect sunlight. This helps him predict how future asteroids that may be headed toward Earth will act and the likelihood that people’s security and safety is at stake.

“As we understand one asteroid better, we can extrapolate that information to thousands of others that look like it,” he said.

Trilling earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his doctorate in planetary science from the University of Arizona. In September he authored a study examining the likely number of near-Earth asteroids, and earlier this year he oversaw a team of the students who created an infrared camera the size of a deck of cards, called TIPSI, that can determine the size of asteroids based on the amount of heat it emits.

Contact: David Trilling, associate professor of physics and astronomy, [email protected] or (928) 523-5505