Shoemaker NEO Grant Program

Defending the Earth from dangerous asteroids

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 62 grants to amateur and professional astronomers from 19 countries on 6 continents who make meaningful contributions to the defense of our planet.

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 December 2019.

Hunting for Dangerous Asteroids Bob Stephens from California tracks and characterizes dangerous near-Earth asteroids. The equipment needed for such a task doesn't last forever. With help from our members, asteroid hunters can upgrade their equipment to make sure we find asteroids before they find us.

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Where are our asteroid hunters?

2019 winners

In 2019 we awarded $57,906 to 6 applicants from 4 countries.

ObserverObservatoryLocationAmount
Leonardo Scanferla AmaralObservatório Campo dos Amarais (OCA)Brazil$8,443
Paulo BacciOsservatorio Astronomico della Montagna PistoieseItaly$8,000
Russell DurkeeShed of Science ObservatoryUnited States$12,799
Randy L. FlynnSquirrel Valley Observatory (SVO)United States$6,139
Korado KorlevićVišnjan ObservatoryCroatia$10,825
Alessandro NastasiGAL Hassin Astronomical CenterItaly$11,700

Past Shoemaker NEO Grant Recipients

Learn more about our past grant recipients, dating back to 1997.