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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

Let's check in on The Planetary Society's asteroid hunters

Jason Davis • June 29, 2018 • 2

The Shoemaker NEO Grant program funds advanced amateur astronomers who help determine if nearby asteroids will hit Earth. Here are some collected reports from our asteroid hunters.

Will an asteroid hit Earth? Your questions answered.

Bruce Betts • June 26, 2018

The Planetary Society presents a list of Frequent Asteroid Questions (FAQs).

New report explores threat from near-Earth asteroids

Jason Davis • June 20, 2018 • 1

How dangerous are near-Earth asteroids, and what will we do if we find one headed toward Earth?

Announcing the 2018 Shoemaker NEO Grant Winners

Bruce Betts • March 12, 2018

Seven very advanced amateur astronomers will help find, track, and characterize near Earth asteroids.

Planetary Society asteroid hunter snags picture of interstellar visitor ʻOumuamua

Jason Davis • November 07, 2017 • 3

Asteroid hunters named the first-known interstellar asteroid ʻOumuamua as a nod to its scout-like traits.

Planetary Society-funded telescopes help find ring around Haumea, a distant dwarf planet

Jason Davis • October 11, 2017 • 3

Haumea has a ring! Two telescopes used in the discovery—one in Slovenia, and one in Italy—received funding from The Planetary Society's Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) Grant program, which helps amateur astronomers find, track and characterize near-Earth asteroids.

Did a Planetary Society citizen scientist help find one of Earth’s biggest impact craters?

Jason Davis • June 12, 2017 • 6

Scientists have found what appears to be a 250-kilometer-wide crater near the Falkland Islands. Is it ground zero for Earth's largest-ever extinction event?

Our asteroid hunters are trying to save the world. Here’s what they’ve been up to

Jason Davis • April 17, 2017

Here are some recent reports from our NEO Shoemaker Grant program asteroid observers, who are quite literally trying to save the world.

Five steps to prevent asteroid impacts

Bruce Betts • June 30, 2015 • 3

For Asteroid Day, Bruce Betts reviews 5 steps needed to prevent asteroid impacts, as well as how The Planetary Society is involved in those.

Shoemaker NEO Grant Winners Announced: Saving the World

Bruce Betts • April 15, 2015

The six winners of the 2015 Shoemaker NEO Grants will use the grants to upgrade their observatories to improve their abilities to study potentially dangerous asteroids.

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More on NEO Grants

How to Prevent Asteroids from Hitting Earth

July 17, 2018 • 8:46

Everything you want to know about preventing an asteroid from hitting the Earth, featuring Dr. Bruce Betts, chief scientist of The Planetary Society.

Amy Mainzer on Asteroid Defense - The Planetary Post with Robert Picardo

July 10, 2018 • 2:36

Robert Picardo of The Planetary Post and Dr. Amy Mainzer from NASA JPL discuss our efforts to look for asteroids and comets near Earth and how we plan to deflect the dangerous ones that could come our way.

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.


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