A report submitted by National Academies committee concluded recently that infrared telescope located in space would be best solution to identify hazardous objects of 140 meters in diameter that come close to earth. The report boosted efforts of scientists that are seeking funds to setup a dedicated mission which will search for objects close to earth though NASA has not committed to giving funds for it even though Congress had set up a goal to identify all near earth objects or NEO’s.
After listening to representatives of various organizations and individuals that presented proposals for detection of NEO’s with ground and space based detection systems, the committee has affirmed that thermal infrared telescope located in space would be the best option under circumstances. The committee also agreed that it would help to meet requirements of George E. Brown Act in which NASA was directed to detect 90 percent of NEO’s by end of 2020.
However meeting the deadline has not been feasible due to lack of resources as though Congress directed NASA to carry out detection and characterization of threat it is not providing adequate resources. To meet the need for detection NASA has been pursuing a concept called NEWCam through a telescope located in space which just carries out infrared searches for near earth objects.
Advocates of this camera hope that this report can help to get them required funding that is beyond current planet based science programs. In the recent Discovery class mission competition NEOCAM as one among five finalists in which two asteroid missions Lucy and Psyche were selected. The report affirmed that missions like NEOCam should not compete with planetary science mission for funds. Advisory group Small Bodies Assessment group which covers planet related science and defense activities has raised the issue at recent meeting in Maryland. NASA too agrees that infrared NEO survey is the ideal system to achieve George E. Brown goal within 10 years.