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Shoemaker Near-Earth Object Grant Program

To find and track near-Earth objects (NEOs) to determine which -- if any -- pose a threat to our world, The Planetary Society has established the Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object Grants. Shoemaker grants are awarded to amateur observers, observers in developing countries, and professional astronomers who, with seed funding, can greatly increase their programs' contributions to NEO research.

Grant recipients have played critical roles in tracking small asteroids that were discovered by major asteroid survey programs, and providing the crucial follow-up observations to determine precise orbits for these objects. They have also contributed NEO discoveries and characterizations of the properties of NEOs. Through these observations and others, supported by Society members and their donations, the Society is playing an active role in helping to ‘retire’ some of the risk of impact from NEOs and to reveal the properties of these interesting and valuable targets for future exploration.

The program honors pioneering planetary geologist Gene Shoemaker, who did so much to help us understand the process of impact cratering on the planets and the nature of the NEO population, and seeks to assist amateur observers, observers in developing countries, and under-funded professional observers contributing to vital NEO research.

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Since founding the grant program in 1997, The Planetary Society has awarded 49 Shoemaker NEO grants totaling about $323,000 to observers from 16 different countries on 5 continents. You can follow the efforts of past grant recipients through their contributions to the Planetary Society Blog and the Planetary Radio podcast


Project Updates

Hunting Binary Asteroids

Bruce Betts • November 07, 2014

Thanks to The Planetary Society’s Shoemaker NEO Grant program, a new telescope has been brought to bear focusing on searching for and understanding the properties of binary asteroid systems.

Shining Up A Telescope

Bruce Betts • March 21, 2014 • 1

A 0.81m telescope in northern Italy is well on its way to being wide eyed and shiny thanks to a 2013 Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant, which will enable it to make better near Earth object observations to help protect our planet from asteroid impact.

Asteroid Telescope First Light

Bruce Betts • August 16, 2013 • 5

Using a Shoemaker NEO Grant a new telescope is operating in Illinois to do asteroid tracking.

Determining Near Earth Asteroids’ Properties from the California Desert

Bruce Betts • August 05, 2013 • 2

Shoemaker NEO Grant winner Bob Stephens specializes in lightcurves of near Earth asteroids to determine their physical properties. Here is an update on recent progress using his 2013 Planetary Society grant. This is the first in a series of updates on Shoemaker NEO Grant winners.

Found a Killer Asteroid? Who Ya Gonna Call?

Mat Kaplan • July 08, 2013

Astronomer Timothy Spahr directs the Minor Planet Center, the global clearinghouse for asteroids, comets and other relatively small objects in the solar system, including moons. He also coordinates the Society's Shoemaker NEO grant program.

Planetary Society Hangout: LaserBees, Asteroids, and Planet Vacuums

Casey Dreier • June 13, 2013 • 1

We check in with Dr. Bruce Betts, our Director of Projects, on the latest from our current programs funded by our members.

Planetary Defense Conference 2013 Part 2

Bruce Betts • May 29, 2013

Second part of a three part wrap up to April's Planetary Defense Conference: a report on Planetary Shoemaker NEO Grant related activities and people at the Planetary Defense Conference 2013

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: the Giant ALMA Observatory, and Asteroid Tracking

Bruce Betts • March 20, 2013

Bruce Betts, Mat Kaplan, and asteroid tracker Robert Holmes on the Planetary Society Weekly Google Hangout. Mat discussed and showed pictures from his trip to the giant ALMA observatory and we'll be joined by asteroid tracker extraordinaire, Robert Holmes.

The Sky Was Falling! A Meteoric Airburst Over Russia and the Encounter with 2012 DA14

Mat Kaplan • February 18, 2013

SEE IT NOW: The Planetary Society's CEO, Bill Nye the Science Guy, joined Director of Projects Bruce Betts for a live webcast as 2012 DA14, a 45-meter asteroid, was passing Earth. Bill and Bruce also marveled at video of the meteor burst high over a city in Russia.

BREAKING: Meteor fall causes damage in Russia [UPDATED]

Emily Lakdawalla • February 15, 2013 • 13

A large meteor streaked through the skies above Russia on the morning of Feb 15th, causing a deafening sonic boom that shattered windows and injured hundreds.

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More on NEO Grants

A Cosmic Voyage with Astronomer Sandra Faber

July 05, 2017 • 1:04:12

Veteran astronomer and cosmologist Sandra Faber has just been awarded the Gruber Prize for Cosmology, honoring more than forty years of pioneering work. She talks with Mat Kaplan on this week’s show.

Dinosaurs vs. Asteroids - The Planetary Post

June 30, 2017 • 3:33

The dinosaurs didn't have a space program, but we do! Learn more about what we're doing to protect the Earth from asteroids and how you can help.

Happy Asteroid Day!

June 28, 2017 • 39:08

Asteroid Day, June 30th, marks the anniversary of the great Tunguska impact that leveled a Siberian forest. It reminds us that a Near Earth Object can destroy a city or even a civilization. Former Minor Planet Center Director Tim Spahr reviews our efforts to find and understand these bodies.

How to Save the World from Asteroids Together

June 26, 2017 • 2:22

No matter how you look at it, asteroid impact is an international issue that requires international coordination. Watch this video to learn what is required for an international disaster response to an asteroid threatening Earth.

Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 7: Asteroids and the Asteroid Threat

March 07, 2017 • 1:29:12

Lecture 7 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers asteroids and the near Earth asteroid threat to Earth (including statistics, past impacts, and information on the Chelyabinsk fireball). Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Intro Astronomy 2016. Class 7: Asteroids and the Asteroid Threat

March 15, 2016 • 1:29:14

Lecture 7 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2016 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers asteroids and the near Earth asteroid threat to Earth (including statistics, past impacts, and information on the Chelyabinsk fireball). Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


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