NASA’s Near-Earth Object Surveyor Mission, or NEO Surveyor, is a new infrared space telescope that will expand NASA's ability to find potentially hazardous asteroids and comets. It is being designed to discover 90% of asteroids 460 feet (140 meters) in size or larger within a decade of being launched.
NEO Surveyor will help improve NASA’s planetary defense efforts to discover most of the potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that come within 30 million miles (48 million kilometers) of Earth’s orbit. These objects are collectively known as near-Earth objects, or NEOs.
“NEO Surveyor would improve NASA’s ability to determine the size and other characteristics of newly discovered NEOs,” said Amy Mainzer, the principal investigator for NASA’s NEO Surveyor.
“NEO Surveyor will have the capability to rapidly accelerate the rate at which NASA is able to discover asteroids and comets that could pose a hazard to the Earth, and it is being designed to discover 90% of asteroids 140 meters in size or larger within a decade of being launched,” said Mike Kelley, NEO Surveyor program scientist at NASA Headquarters.
After launch, NEO Surveyor will conduct a five-year baseline survey to find at least two-thirds of the potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids larger than 460 feet (140 meters). These are the objects large enough to cause major regional damage if they impacted Earth.
By using sensors that operate in the infrared, NEO Surveyor will be able to make accurate measurements of NEO sizes and will gain valuable information about their composition, shapes, rotational states, and orbits. The telescope also will help planetary scientists discover NEOs more quickly.
“By searching for NEOs closer to the direction of the Sun, NEO Surveyor will help astronomers discover impact hazards that could approach Earth from the daytime sky,” Mainzer said.
Principal Investigator (PI): Dr. Amy Mainzer
The NEO Surveyor mission is led by the University of Arizona.
The spacecraft is being developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
It is managed by NASA’s Planetary Missions Program Office at Marshall Space Flight Center, with program oversight by the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).