The B612 Foundation responded to NASA’s decision not to fund the dangerous asteroid hunting mission, urging the following administrations to invest in an infrared space telescope that will seek out near-earth threats.
Against the backdrop of the excitement of NASA's Discovery last week, which described two new missions about to go to eight asteroids after launch in the 2020s, bad news arrived for competitors. Among them, the mission of hunting for asteroids (NEOCam), not received financial support. Although she still get some money during the year.
NEOCam (near-Earth objects camera) was supposed to search for asteroids in the infrared range, located at point L1 (stable gravitational region between the Earth and Sun). Representatives of the B612 foundation (a private non-profit organization focused on protecting the Earth from dangerous asteroids) said they were disappointed that the mission was never chosen.
“We urge the new administration to send NASA or another active agency for funding, as an open petition, and not competition for scientific missions. Because its main goal is planetary defense and space exploration, ”the foundation wrote in a statement.
In 2005, the US Congress sent NASA to search for 90% of asteroids with a size of at least 140 meters (459 feet) in diameter by 2020. Some reports say NASA is behind this task. NEOCam developed a search for 2/3 of objects in the first four years after launch. B612 reports that NEOCam will be an addition to another telescope under construction - the Large Synoptic Observation Telescope (LSST), which should be launched in 2023. LSST will scan the sky for 10 years for various missions, including the search for asteroids.
NEOCam also received support from the National Research Council back in 2010. The report says that the telescope will be an effective method to search for dangerous objects and NEOCam is mentioned as an example.
Separately, the B612 is working on building its own Sentinel telescope. It will be located in the same orbit as Venus (it is closer to the Sun than the Earth). The telescope will search for objects up to 40 meters (131 feet) in size. About the same drummer crashed into the Siberian forests in Tunguska in 1908. Despite some setbacks, the fund is seeking funding.
NASA is already searching for asteroids in the near-Earth object program, working with several search engines in the United States. They also have a NEOWise mission, whose training is due to end this year.
NEOWise Chief Investigator from Jet Propulsion Laboratory Amy Mainzer also supports NEOCam.