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Shoemaker Near-Earth Object Grant Program

To find and track near-Earth objects (NEOs) to determine which 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 56 Shoemaker NEO grants totaling about $382,000 to observers from 18 different countries on 6 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

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.

Guide to Asteroid 2012 DA14 Super Close Approach

Bruce Betts • February 04, 2013 • 17

The 45 meter asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass closer to Earth than geostationary satellites on Feb. 15, 2013. Learn about the asteroid and what to expect from the close approach.

Shoemaker Winner Hug Discovers Near Earth Asteroid 2013 AS27

Bruce Betts • January 10, 2013 • 8

Using a Planetary Society provided camera, Gary Hug in Kansas, USA discovered Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2013 AS27 on Jan. 7, 2013. Shoemaker winner Bob Holmes provided the first follow up observations of this 140m-310m wide asteroid.

Calling (Really Serious) Asteroid Hunters

Bruce Betts • November 19, 2012 • 9

I am happy to announce a new call for proposals for The Planetary Society’s Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) grant program, which is celebrating its 15th Anniversary. Proposals are due Feb. 4, 2013.

Shoemaker NEO Winner Finds Close Fly By Asteroid

Bruce Betts • October 02, 2012

Gary Hug used his Shoemaker NEO grant provided camera to find 2012 SY49 which flew by Earth at about two lunar distances last week. The tens of meters wide asteroid is a low-probability possible Earth impactor in the future.

Saving the World: Established 1997

Bruce Betts • September 21, 2012 • 2

The Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO grants celebrate their 15th anniversary of helping to find and track near Earth asteroids. Here's a quick review of the program, and updates on our four multiple-grant winners.

Hunting Asteroids from a Field in Kansas

Bruce Betts • June 15, 2012

TPS Shoemaker NEO Grant Winner Gary Hug hunts near Earth objects from his back yard in Kansas. NPR's Morning Edition picked up on this fascinating story.

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More on NEO Grants

LightSail in the Clean Room - The Planetary Post with Robert Picardo

April 03, 2018 • 5:19

Special guest host, Seth MacFarlane, is overshadowed by another special guest host, Dr. Bruce Betts, in this episode featuring the LightSail 2 Integration. Also featuring yet another special guest Doctor at the end! But Who is it?

Amateur Astronomers Work To Save Earth From Asteroids!

March 14, 2018 • 36:35

Seven astronomers have been selected to receive Shoemaker NEO (Near Earth Object) grants from the Planetary Society. They and their observatories span the planet. We’ll meet an American and an Australian. Society Chief Scientist Bruce Betts provides an overview of the grant program and later returns for this week’s edition of What’s Up. The Planetary Society’s Kate Howells reports on the outlook for space funding in Canada’s newly-released federal budget. She and Society CEO Bill Nye also met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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.


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