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NASA begins construction on asteroid-detecting space telescope

Construction is set to begin on NASA’s Near-Earth Object Surveyor, a space telescope designed to search for hard-to-find comets and asteroids that approach the area near Earth.

The NEO Surveyor passed a technical programmatic review and will now move into the construction phase.

“The mission supports the objectives of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) at NASA Headquarters in Washington,” the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Friday said in a press release.

The Planetary Defense Coordination Office was established in 2016 to document objects that are hazardous to Earth.

“NEO Surveyor represents the next generation for NASA’s ability to quickly detect, track, and characterize potentially hazardous near-Earth objects,” said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer at PDCO.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 directed NASA to document 90% of near-Earth objects more than 460 feet across that come within 30 million miles of Earth. Objects of that size can pose a significant threat if they impact the Earth.

The NEO Surveyor will travel a million miles to an orbit in a gravitationally stable region between the Sun and the Earth known as L1 Lagrange point. The NEO Surveyor will observe infrared light to detect near-Earth objects. The information will also be used to better understand the formation of comets and asteroids.

Components of the NEO Surveyor, including radiators that will provide passive cooling to the craft, are already under construction.

Related Links

Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology

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