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.

14 February 2011

NASA FY2012 Budget and NEO Program (Increase from About US$6 M to US$20M)

The recent NASA FY2012 Budget request from President Obama has been released. Some quick highlights related to NEOs. It looks as if the Near Earth Object Observations (NEOO) program will have its budget increased from US$5.8M in FY2010 (and similar amount in FY2011 due to the Continuing Resolution) to approximatively a little over US$20M in FY2012. From the recent budget release from NASA:

Near Earth Object Observations (NEOO) program

- Budget Authority, $ in millions

Actual FY2010: US$5.8 M
FY2011: Continuing Resolution (CR)
FY2012: US$20.4 M
FY2013: US$20.5 M
FY2014: US$20.6 M
FY2015: US$20.7 M
FY2016: US$21.1 M

The NEOO project detects and tracks at least 90 percent of the near Earth objects (NEOs)-- asteroids, and comets that come within 1.3 astronomical units of the Sun. It's long term goal is to find those of at least 140 meters in size that have any potential to collide with Earth and do significant damage to the planet. In the course of this effort, initial characterization of NEOs that could be viable targets for robotic and crewed exploration will also occur. In accordance with the findings and recommendations of the January 2010 NRC study on the NEO hazard, NEOO will continue to:

- Collect, archive, and analyze the small body data collected by NASA's WISE mission, and support increased follow-up and analysis of this data;

- Enable collection of NEO detection and characterization data by ground-based systems, including the U.S. Air Force's (USAF) Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Reporting System (Pan-STARRS) and investigate the use of other USAF space surveillance assets for this mission;

- Support the continued operation of planetary radar capabilities at the NSF's Arecibo and NASA's Goldstone facilities; and

- Investigate both ground and space-based concepts for increasing capacity to detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous objects down to sizes 140 meters and below.

More information on NASA's NEO program is available at

Link: NASA Budget Documents

Link: FY 2012 Complete Budget Estimates (8.2 MB PDF)
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