Presentation #306.16 in the session “Asteroids, the Moon, and Meteorites”. Cross-listed as presentation #312.05.
The Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor mission, which is designed to find the majority of potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids larger than 140 meters in diameter as well as thousands of comets, has moved into its preliminary design phase. The mission is currently scheduled for launch in early 2026. Its operational cadence is designed to maximize discovery and orbit quality for NEOs by performing a repetitive sequence of observations on several timescales. The basic unit of an observation is a “Visit”, a set of six 30-second exposures taken with the ~1.7x7° field of view separated by ~10 arcsec dither steps. A sequence of approximately 30 Visits are conducted in a closed loop on the sky. The loop is repeated four times in 8 hours, providing four Visits on each region of sky during that time. The survey is performed over a region bounded by ±(45°-120°) in longitude and -40° to +40° in latitude. All of the individual exposures are downlinked daily for processing and analysis. Detections of candidate moving objects made from the downlinked images are linked into sets of position-time pairs (“tracklets”). The sequence repeats roughly a dozen days later, alternating between one side of the Sun and the other. Roughly 14,000 4-megapixel images are collected daily in two channels centered at 4.6 and 8 microns. During its 5-year mission, NEO Surveyor will deliver millions of images and billions of extracted sources to the science community via the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive, millions of asteroids and comet tracklets via the IAU Minor Planet Center, and derived physical properties for millions of minor planets to NASA’s Planetary Data System.