This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

12 August 2009

Update on Release of Interim Report on NEOs by U.S. National Research Council (NRC)

Link: National Research Council Report (Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Interim Report)

Review of report from Leonard David (

Report: NASA Falling Short in Eying Hazardous Near Earth Objects.
12 August 2009

NASA is falling short in its U.S. Congress-assigned sky-watching duties to chart the whereabouts of certain-sized Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that may threaten our planet.

The prestigious National Research Council (NRC) released today a set of interim findings in a two-part study that looks into issues in the detection of potentially hazardous Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and approaches to thwarting identified hazards to our planet.

The NRC appraisal is a congressionally-mandated review of NEOs that orbit the Sun and approach or cross Earth’s orbit.
The committee’s blue ribbon panel of experts has issued five findings:

-- Congress has mandated that NASA discover 90 percent of all near-Earth objects 140 meters in diameter or greater by 2020. The administration has not requested and Congress has not appropriated new funds to meet this objective. Only limited facilities are currently involved in this survey/discovery effort, funded by NASA’s existing budget.

-- The current near-Earth object surveys cannot meet the goals of the 2005 NASA Authorization Act directing NASA to discover 90 percent of all near-Earth objects 140 meters in diameter or greater by 2020.

-- The orbit-fitting capabilities of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts are more than capable of handling the observations of the congressionally mandated survey as long as staffing needs are met.

-- The Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico continues to play a unique role in characterization of NEOs, providing unmatched precision and accuracy in orbit determination and insight into size, shape, surface structure, multiplicity, and other physical properties for objects within its declination coverage and detection range.

-- The United States is the only country that currently has an operating survey/detection program for discovering near-Earth objects; Canada and Germany are both building spacecraft that may contribute to the discovery of near-Earth objects. However, neither mission will detect fainter or smaller objects than ground-based telescopes.

This interim report addresses some of the issues associated with the survey and detection of NEOs. The committee is continuing to gather information and will produce a final report on a broader range of NEO issues by year’s end.

Link: Space Coalition News Item

Link: Huffington Post Article

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