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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 Winner Finds Close Fly By Asteroid

Bruce Betts • October 02, 2012

Gary Hug used his Shoemaker NEO grant provided camera to find 2012 SY49 which flew by Earth at about two lunar distances last week. The tens of meters wide asteroid is a low-probability possible Earth impactor in the future.

Saving the World: Established 1997

Bruce Betts • September 21, 2012 • 2

The Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO grants celebrate their 15th anniversary of helping to find and track near Earth asteroids. Here's a quick review of the program, and updates on our four multiple-grant winners.

Hunting Asteroids from a Field in Kansas

Bruce Betts • June 15, 2012

TPS Shoemaker NEO Grant Winner Gary Hug hunts near Earth objects from his back yard in Kansas. NPR's Morning Edition picked up on this fascinating story.

More Evidence for Impact Origin for Colombia’s Vichada Structure

Bruce Betts • May 08, 2012

Evidence continues to pile up that the Rio Vichada structure in Colombia is indeed the largest impact structure in South America.

La Sagra Observatory discovers very near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14

Jaime Nomen • March 27, 2012 • 3

With a new CCD camera configured to shoot rapid, short exposures bought with a Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant we caught near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14.

Shoemaker NEO Grant Update: Asteroid discoveries from La Sagra

Jaime Nomen • August 22, 2011

In spite of some bad weather conditions during the first part of this year, the new camera bought with funds from a Planetary Society Shoemaker Near Earth Object grant helped us to discover and confirm ten new near-Earth objects.

The Potential to Destroy Civilization? Now on YouTube

Charlene Anderson • August 29, 2010

Visualization can help the brain comprehend what words and numbers can struggle to covey. There's a YouTube video posted by "szyzyg" making the rounds right now that drives that point home.

Apply for a Shoemaker NEO Grant! Deadline extended to June 24

Emily Lakdawalla • June 08, 2010

Amateur astronomers, get your proposals in for this year's round of Shoemaker NEO Grants!

Making a difference through the Shoemaker NEO Grants

Emily Lakdawalla • March 18, 2010

Amir Alexander has just posted an update on the activities of the most recent winners of the Shoemaker NEO Grants.

Updates on Shoemaker NEO Grant Recipients

Bruce Betts • March 18, 2010

Our past Shoemaker NEO grant recipients have once again shown themselves to be a hardworking and enterprising group.

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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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