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The Near-Earth Object Surveyor Mission

Presentation #409.02 in the session Planetary Defense! (iPosters).

Published onOct 20, 2022
The Near-Earth Object Surveyor Mission

NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor mission (NEOS) is an infrared space telescope designed to find, track, and characterize potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids and comets, with a requirement to find the majority of asteroids large enough to cause severe regional damage. NEO Surveyor responds to the George E. Brown Congressional law directing NASA to find more than 90% of these objects by 2020, and the mission was the top priority for planetary defense in the 2022 Planetary Decadal Survey. While achieving this goal by 2020 was not accomplished, the NEO Surveyor mission is expected to reach 2/3 survey completeness for potentially hazardous asteroids larger than 140m within five years following its early 2026 launch. The mission can achieve the George E. Brown requirement of 90% completeness in approximately 12 years of surveying. The mission’s lifetime is required to be 5 years, with a 12-year goal. NEO Surveyor is currently in Phase B (Preliminary Design), and efforts have focused on maturation of the design of its 50-cm telescope with a 1.7 x 7 deg field of view and infrared detectors simultaneously sampling two broadband channels spanning 4-5.2 and 6-10 um. NEO Surveyor will observe down to Solar elongations of 45 deg from its vantage point in a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrange point, resulting in particularly efficient detection of the NEOs that have the most Earth-like orbits and consequently the greatest chance for collisions with the Earth. The mission will deliver diameters for hundreds of thousands of NEOs, millions of main belt asteroids, and thousands of comets; albedos will be computed where archival visible light observations are available e.g. from existing and future surveys such as the Catalina Sky Survey, Pan-STARRS, the Zwicky Transient Facility, or the Vera C. Rubin Observatory.

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