The 1997 Gene Shoemaker NEO Grants, totaling $35,000 (US), were announced on 11 October in Flagstaff, AZ and awarded to the following individuals:
- Gordon Garradd, Australia;
- Kirill Zamarashkin, Russia;
- Walter Wild, Chicago, Illinois; and
- Bill Holiday, Corpus Christi, Texas.
Gordon Garradd operates the only NEO observing program in the southern hemisphere. Based in Loomberah, New South Wales in Australia, Garradd will use his Gene Shoemaker NEO Grant to complete a 45-centimeter (18-inch) Newtonian telescope now under construction and to acquire a larger, higher-grade imaging sensor (a CCD, or charge coupled device).
Kirill Zamarashkin is the project coordinator for a joint Russian-Ukrainian search program at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. This team of scientists has been studying NEOs for 30 years and has discovered 910 minor bodies, 12 percent of the currently numbered minor planets. The grant money will be used to help construct the first element of an automatic complex to search for NEOs.
Walter Wild, an astronomer at the University of Chicago, leads a group of amateur astronomers who are conducting a NEO search from Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin. The grant money will be used to refurbish their 24-inch (61-centimeter) telescope and to bring their spectrograph to operational capacity for use with a 41-inch (104-centimeter) telescope used for follow-up classification of NEOs.
Bill Holiday is
an amateur astronomer based in Texas. Working from a home-built rotating
roof-observatory, Holiday will supply additional data to professional
astronomers to help them make orbit predictions for NEOs. The grant will
be used to upgrade his equipment.
Thirteen grant applications were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of seven eminent scientists:
- Richard Binzel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
- Andrea Carusi, Instituto di Astrofisica Spaziale;
- Clark Chapman, Southwest Research Institute;
- Brian Marsden, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics;
- Alain Maury, Telescope de Schmidt-Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur;
- Syuichi Nakano, Japanese astronomer; and
- Jorge Sahade, La Plata Observatorio Astronomico, Argentina.
The Planetary Society's Shoemaker NEO Grant program funds advanced amateur astronomers to find, track, and characterize potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.