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Shoemaker Near-Earth Object Grant Program

To find and track near-Earth objects (NEOs) to determine which -- if any -- 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.

Support this project

Since founding the grant program in 1997, The Planetary Society has awarded 49 Shoemaker NEO grants totaling about $323,000 to observers from 16 different countries on 5 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 Society asteroid hunter snags picture of interstellar visitor ʻOumuamua

Jason Davis • November 07, 2017 • 2

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.

Planetary Defense Conference: Steps to Prevent Asteroid Impact

Bruce Betts • April 13, 2015 • 2

From Italy, Bruce Betts gives background and information at the start of the Planetary Defense Conference, which addresses the asteroid threat. Bruce summarizes steps to prevent asteroid impact.

Camera now measuring even fainter Near-Earth Objects

Bruce Betts • January 30, 2015

Camera purchased with the support of a 2009 Shoemaker NEO Grant is now on a new telescope providing follow-up measurements for even fainter near-Earth objects.

Sky survey grant helps lead to a space science career

Bruce Betts • January 16, 2015

Quan-Zhi Ye was an 18 year-old college student and the principal investigator of the Lulin Sky Survey when he won a 2007 Shoemaker NEO grant. He's now a Ph.D. candidate and provides an update on his work in meteor studies.

2007 Shoemaker Grant Still Yielding Asteroid Science

Bruce Betts • January 06, 2015

Telescope purchased in 2007 with the support of a Shoemaker grant is still in service and has worked on over 100 near-Earth asteroids over its 8 years of operation.

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More on NEO Grants

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.

Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 7: Asteroids and the Asteroid Threat

March 07, 2017 • 1:29:12

Lecture 7 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers asteroids and the near Earth asteroid threat to Earth (including statistics, past impacts, and information on the Chelyabinsk fireball). Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Intro Astronomy 2016. Class 7: Asteroids and the Asteroid Threat

March 15, 2016 • 1:29:14

Lecture 7 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2016 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers asteroids and the near Earth asteroid threat to Earth (including statistics, past impacts, and information on the Chelyabinsk fireball). Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


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