Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking

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Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) was a program run by NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory to discover near-Earth objects. The NEAT project began in December 1995 and ran until April 2007.[1]

History[edit]

Number of NEOs detected by various projects.

The original principal investigator was Eleanor F. Helin, with co-investigators Steven H. Pravdo and David L. Rabinowitz.

NEAT has a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Air Force to use a GEODSS telescope located on Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii. GEODSS stands for Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance and these wide field Air Force telescopes were designed to optically observe Earth orbital spacecraft. The NEAT team designed a CCD camera and computer system for the GEODSS telescope. The CCD camera format is 4096 × 4096 pixels and the field of view is 1.2° × 1.6°.

Beginning in April 2001, the Samuel Oschin telescope (1.2 metre aperture Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory) was also put into service to discover and track near-Earth objects. This telescope is equipped with a camera containing 112 CCDs each 2400 × 600. This is the telescope that produced the images leading to the discovery of 50000 Quaoar in 2002, and 90377 Sedna in 2003 (published 2004) and the dwarf planet Eris.

In addition to discovering thousands of asteroids, NEAT is also credited with the co-discovery (recovery) of periodic comet 54P/de Vico-Swift-NEAT and of the high proper motion Teegarden's star. The C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) comet was discovered on August 24, 2001 by NEAT.

An asteroid was named in its honour, 64070 NEAT, in early 2005.

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