Near-Earth Object Camera

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Near-Earth Object Camera
NEOCam telescope artist concept, NASA JPL Caltech.jpg
Mission type Astronomy
Operator NASA / JPL
Mission duration Planned: 4 years
Start of mission
Launch date Proposed: 2021
Orbital parameters
Reference system Heliocentric
Regime Sun–Earth L1
Main telescope
Diameter 50 cm (20 in)
Wavelengths Near-infrared (6–10 µm)

The Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) is a proposed space-based infrared telescope designed to survey the Solar System for potentially hazardous asteroids.[1][2] NEOCam would survey from the Sun–Earth L1 Lagrange point, allowing it to look close to the Sun and see objects inside Earth's orbit.[3][4] NEOCam would be the successor of the NEOWISE mission; the principal investigator is NEOWISE's principal investigator, Amy Mainzer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.[5]

Proposals for NEOCam were submitted in 2006, 2010, and 2015 to the NASA Discovery Program. In 2010, NEOCam was selected to receive technology development funding to design and test new detectors optimized for asteroid and comet detection and discovery.[6][7] On 30 September 2015, the Discovery Program advanced NEOCam along with other four candidate missions for refinement during the next year, with each mission receiving US$3 million for a one-year study.[8][9][10] Although it was not successful in the 4 January 2017 selection of the next two Discovery missions, it was given an additional year of funding.[11]


The primary scientific goal of NEOCam is to discover and characterize the orbit of most of the potentially hazardous asteroids larger than 140 metres (460 ft) over the course of its four-year mission. NEOCam's field of view would be large enough to allow the mission to discover tens of thousands of new NEOs with sizes as small as 30 m (98 ft) in diameter.[12] Secondary science goals include detection and characterization of approximately one million asteroids in the asteroid belt and thousands of comets.[13]

In 2016, the NEOCam team proposed to launch in 2021 and find two-thirds of missing objects in the larger-than-140-meters category within four years.[14]

Scientific payload[edit]

The scientific payload would consist of an infrared telescope and a wide-field camera operating at two thermal infrared wavelengths.[13] The mission would likely use a special mercury–cadmium–telluride detector called HgCdTe Astronomical Wide Area Infrared Imager (HAWAII) in development by Teledyne.[15] This detector has good infrared performance without the use of a cryogenic fluid refrigeration.[15] NEOcam will keep relatively cool by operating at the Sun–Earth L1 point and employing a Sun shield. The prototype sensor was successfully tested in April 2013.[16]


Plot of orbits of known potentially hazardous asteroids (size over 140 m (460 ft) and passing within 7.6 million km (4.7 million mi) of Earth's orbit) as of early 2013. (alternate image).
Annually discovered NEAs by survey since 1995
  All others
Large NEAs (at least 1 km in diameter) discovered each year

See also[edit]

Discovery Program finalists with this mission
NEOs search projects
Related topics


  1. ^ Chang, Kenneth (6 January 2017). "A Metal Ball the Size of Massachusetts That NASA Wants to Explore". New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "NEOCam website". JPL. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "NEOCam orbit description". JPL. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Mainzer, Amanda K. (September 2009), "NEOCam: The Near-Earth Object Camera", Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, American Astronomical Society, 38: 568 
  5. ^ "Amy Mainzer's JPL homepage". JPL. 25 August 2003. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "NEOCam Mission description and history". JPL. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  7. ^ NASA, Discovery, JPL, Anthony Goodeill. "Discovery News, May 2011". NASA. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Clark, Stephen (7 September 2016). "NASA official says new mission selections on track despite InSight woes". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 8 September 2016. 
  9. ^ Clark, Stephen (24 February 2014). "NASA receives proposals for new planetary science mission". Space Flight Now. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Kane, Van (2 December 2014). "Selecting the Next Creative Idea for Exploring the Solar System". Planetary Society. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Updated: NASA taps missions to tiny metal world and Jupiter Trojans". Science | AAAS. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2017. 
  12. ^ "NEOCam - Instrument". NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "NEOCam Science". NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Mosher, Dave (January 13, 2017). "City-killing asteroids will inevitably strike Earth — but NASA isn't launching this mission to hunt them down". Business Insider. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  15. ^ a b "Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam)". Teledyne Scientific Imaging. Teledyne Scientific Imaging. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "NASA-Funded Asteroid Tracking Sensor Passes Key Test". NASA News. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 

External links[edit]