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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

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.

New camera improves a California near-Earth asteroid program

Bruce Betts • December 29, 2014

A new camera is improving the efficiency of the Near-Earth Asteroid Program at the Center for Solar System Studies. This update from Shoemaker NEO Grant winner Bob Stephens reveals amazing recent progress using his 2013 Planetary Society grant.

Calling Serious Asteroid Hunters

Bruce Betts • November 24, 2014 • 1

I am happy to announce a new call for proposals for The Planetary Society’s Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) grant program. Proposals are due Feb. 2, 2015.

Hunting Binary Asteroids

Bruce Betts • November 07, 2014

Thanks to The Planetary Society’s Shoemaker NEO Grant program, a new telescope has been brought to bear focusing on searching for and understanding the properties of binary asteroid systems.

Shining Up A Telescope

Bruce Betts • March 21, 2014 • 1

A 0.81m telescope in northern Italy is well on its way to being wide eyed and shiny thanks to a 2013 Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant, which will enable it to make better near Earth object observations to help protect our planet from asteroid impact.

Asteroid Telescope First Light

Bruce Betts • August 16, 2013 • 5

Using a Shoemaker NEO Grant a new telescope is operating in Illinois to do asteroid tracking.

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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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