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Finding and Characterizing Asteroid and Comet Populations from Space

May 17, 2017

When: May 17, 2017 3:30AM

Amy Mainzer

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) is surveying to find, track, and characterize asteroids and comets that come within near-Earth space. By using infrared wavelengths, NEOWISE has contributed measurements of asteroid and comet nucleus sizes and albedos, as well as measurements of comet particle size distributions and gas production rates. However, NEOWISE will not be able to continue its operations indefinitely; natural changes to its orbit will eventually force an end to the mission. Much remains to be learned about the population of near-Earth objects; the majority of objects large enough to cause severe regional damage remain undiscovered. To greatly increase the discovery rate of near-Earth objects, a new mission has been proposed: the Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam). NEOCam has recently been placed into an extended study phase by NASA.

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