Recently in the NEO (Near Earth Objects) Category

"This article describes a citizen-science project conducted by the Spanish Virtual Observatory (SVO) to improve the orbits of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) using data from astronomical archives. The list of NEAs maintained at the Minor Planet Center (MPC) is checked daily to identify new objects or changes in the orbital parameters of already catalogued objects. Using NEODyS we compute the position and magnitude of these objects at the observing epochs of the 938 046 images comprising the Eigth Data Release of the Sloan Digitised Sky Survey (SDSS). If the object lies within the image boundaries and the magnitude is brighter than the limiting magnitude, then the associated image is visually inspected by the project's collaborators (the citizens) to confirm or discard the presence of the NEA. If confirmed, accurate coordinates and, sometimes, magnitudes are submitted to the MPC." More

Rock on - A charitable foundation is to launch the first private, scientific space mission, Economist

"Budget cuts have hit NASA's science missions hard. NEOCam is not certain to fly, and the foundation worries that, although NASA has already catalogued most of the biggest, civilisation-ending asteroids, thousands of smaller rocks, of similar dimensions to the one that exploded over Siberia, remain undetected. If one were to hit the wrong part of the planet it would cause a catastrophe. Hence the shift in focus from deflection to discovery. Sentinel's mission will be broadly similar to NEOCam's. Both telescopes will have 50cm mirrors. Both will scan the sky in the infra-red spectrum, where dark but comparatively warm asteroids should show up brightly against the cold of deep space. Both will inhabit orbits between Earth and the sun, in order to get the best possible vantage point. The foundation's ambition is to produce an asteroid map that records 90% of near-Earth objects that are more than 140 metres across, and half of those bigger than 50 metres. Armed with data on their orbits and velocities, astronomers should be able to calculate which pose a threat over the coming century or so."

B612 Foundation Announces First Privately Funded Deep Space Mission

Donate to B612 Foundation

Move An Asteroid 2012

Move An Asteroid 2012: International Student and Young Professional Technical Paper Competition

"Thousands of astronomers across the world are on a daily search for undiscovered asteroids and comets, some of which, large or small, may hit the Earth in the future. Thankfully, the kilometer sized asteroids seen in movies that are large enough to cause mass-extinctions are incredibly rare. However, 10 to 100 meter rocks are big enough to destroy a city and hit roughly every 100 years, with the last recorded one 104 years ago (the Tunguska Event). With the latest technology, it is now possible to spot some of these smaller sized objects with enough time for missions to be launched and warnings to be sent out. This competition challenges students and young professionals worldwide to come up with original ideas relating to Earth-threatening Near Earth Objects (NEOs)."

Crowdsourcing Asteroid Detection

Amateur astronomers boost ESA's asteroid hunt

"A partnership with the UK's Faulkes Telescope Project promises to boost the Agency's space hazards research while helping students to discover potentially dangerous space rocks. ESA's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme is keeping watch over space hazards, including disruptive space weather, debris objects in Earth orbit and asteroids that pass close enough to cause concern. The asteroids - known as 'near-Earth objects', or NEOs, since they cross Earth's orbit - are a particular problem. Any attempt to survey and catalogue hazardous asteroids faces a number of difficulties. They're often jet black or at least very dark, they can approach rather too close before anyone sees them, and they're often spotted only once and then disappear before the discovery can be confirmed."

Amateur Skywatchers Help ESA's Space Hazards Team

"For the first time, observations coordinated by ESA's space hazards team have found an asteroid that comes close enough to Earth to pose an impact threat. The space rock was found by amateur astronomers, highlighting the value of 'crowd-sourcing' to science and planetary defence. The discovery of asteroid 2011 SF108 was made by the volunteer Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey (TOTAS) team during an observation slot sponsored by ESA's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme in September."

Amateur astronomers, including Nick James of Chelmsford, Essex, England, have captured video of the interesting object. James generated his video of GP59 on the night of Monday, April 11. The video, captured with an 11-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, is a compilation of 137 individual frames, each requiring 30 seconds of exposure. At the time, the asteroid was approximately 3,356,000 kilometers (2,081,000 miles) distant. Since then, the space rock has become something of a darling of the amateur astronomy community, with many videos available. Here is one recent posting: