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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 14

NASA Establishes Near-Earth Object Program Office

From: NASANews@hq.nasa.gov
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 13:36:23 -0400 (EDT)
Fwd Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 13:52:18 -0400
Subject: NASA Establishes Near-Earth Object Program Office

Donald Savage
Headquarters, Washington, DC   July 14, 1998
(Phone:  202/358-1727)

Mary Beth Murrill
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
(Phone:  818/354-5011)

RELEASE:  98-123


A new program office to coordinate NASA-sponsored efforts to
detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids
and comets that could approach Earth will be established at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA.

NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office will focus on the goal
of locating at least 90 percent of the estimated 2,000 asteroids
and comets that approach the Earth and are larger than about
2/3-mile (about 1 kilometer) in diameter, by the end of the next

"These are objects that are difficult to detect because of their
relatively small size, but are large enough to cause global
effects if one hit the Earth," said Dr. Donald K. Yeomans of
JPL, who will head the new program office.  "Finding a majority
of this population will require the efforts of researchers at
several NASA centers, at universities and at observatories
across the country, and will require the participation by the
international astronomy community as well."

"We determined that, in order to achieve our goals, we need a
more formal focusing of our near-Earth object tracking efforts
and related communications with the supporting research
community," said Dr. B. Carl Pilcher, science director for Solar
System Exploration in NASA's Office of Space Science, NASA
Headquarters.  "I want to emphasize that science research
solicitations and resulting peer reviews, international
coordination, and strategic planning regarding future missions
will remain the responsibilities of NASA Headquarters."

In addition to managing the detection and cataloging of
near-Earth objects, the new NASA office will be responsible for
facilitating communications between the astronomical community
and the public should any potentially hazardous objects be
discovered as a result of the program, Pilcher said.

JPL was selected to host the program office because of its
expertise in precisely tracking the positions and predicted
paths of asteroids and comets.  No significant additional staff
hiring at JPL is expected at this time.

A fact sheet describing NASA's research and spacecraft missions
related to asteroids and comets is available on the
Internet at the following address: