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Shoemaker NEO Grant Program

Defending the Earth from dangerous asteroids

Program type
Planetary Defense
Funding to date
Grants to date
Program status

The Planetary Society's Shoemaker NEO Grant program helps find, track and characterize near-Earth objects (NEOs) to determine which pose a threat to Earth. Since 1997, we've awarded 56 grants to amateur and professional astronomers from 18 countries on 6 continents who make meaningful contributions to the defense of our planet.

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The world's professional sky surveys alone cannot handle the burden of finding and tracking the estimated 10 million NEOs larger than 20 meters, the size of the asteroid that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia and caused city-wide damage. That's where our Shoemaker grant winners come in. They find new NEOs, track and measure existing ones, and contribute to the field of asteroid science by determining characteristics like spin rates and whether one asteroid is actually a binary pair.

In recent years, our asteroid hunters have helped NASA confirm a rare double asteroid, observed a fast-spinning asteroid that rotates every 3.5 minutes, and imaged the interstellar asteroid ʻOumuamua that visited our solar system in 2017. We awarded our last round of grants in 2018, and announced a new grant opportunity in April 2019.

Morocco Oukaïmeden Sky Survey


Morocco Oukaïmeden Sky Survey
In 2018, The Planetary Society awarded its first-ever Shoemaker grant to an observatory in Africa, the Morocco Oukaïmeden Sky Survey (MOSS).

Where are our asteroid hunters?

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2018 winners

In 2018 we awarded $59,300 to 6 applicants from 4 countries.

Vladimir Benishek Sopot Astronomical Observatory Belgrade, Serbia $5,060
Daniel Coley Center for Solar System Studies (CSSS) California, U.S.A. $8,995
Robert Holmes Astronomical Research Institute (ARI) Illinois, U.S.A. $5,500
Gary Hug Farpoint Observatory Kansas, U.S.A. $6,860
Julian Oey Blue Mountain Observatory New South Wales, Australia $11,845
Michel Ory Morocco Oukaïmeden Sky Survey (MOSS) High Atlas Mountains of Morocco $9,999
Donald Pray Sugarloaf Observatory Massachusetts, U.S.A. $11,000

Gene Shoemaker, 1928-1997

Our grants honor pioneering planetary geologist Gene Shoemaker, who helped uncover the process of impact cratering and was an early advocate for near-Earth object sky surveys.

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