NASA begins construction of a new asteroid hunter

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA‘s Near-Earth Object Surveyor (NEO Surveyor) space telescope, designed to search for the most inaccessible asteroids and comets, has recently passed a thorough technical and software review.

The mission is now moving into the final design and manufacturing phase and is establishing its technical, cost and graphical baselines.

The mission supports the goals of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). NEO Surveyor will detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

Driven by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the NEO Surveyor will travel more than a million kilometers to the L1 Lagrange point between the Earth and the Sun, where it will be during its five-year mission.

From this location, NEO Surveyor will view the solar system in infrared wavelengths.

NEO Surveyor’s state-of-the-art detectors are designed to observe in two thermally sensitive infrared bands, which were specifically chosen to enable the spacecraft to track the most difficult to detect near-Earth objects, such as dark asteroids and comets, which do not reflect much visible light.

At infrared wavelengths, to which the NEO Surveyor is sensitive, these objects glow because they are heated by sunlight.

In addition, NEO Surveyor will be able to find asteroids that are approaching the Earth from the side of the Sun, and terrestrial trojans.

The mission will also help characterize the composition, shape, rotation and orbit of near-Earth objects.

Although the main focus of the mission is on planetary defense, this information can be used to better understand the origin and evolution of asteroids and comets.

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