It is imperative for the long-term survival of human civilisation that potentially hazardous asteroids and comets are detected and tracked to provide adequate warning of collisions with the Earth. With such warning appropriate action could be taken to prevent potentially catastrophic impacts. The extent of the hazard and the measures required for its mitigation are well documented.
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The Spaceguard Centre is a totally independent, un-funded institution. With its parent organisation, Spaceguard UK, it is widely recognised as a leader in the field of public information and education relating to Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Since its establishment in January 1997 Spaceguard UK has grown into the largest national Spaceguard organisation in the world. Our Visiting and Associate membership covers most of the world's expertise in NEO studies, and provides a tremendous foundation of knowledge and experience.
Now we need to progress the project to make a real contribution to NEO research. The equipment currently installed at The Spaceguard Centre was designed for general astronomy, and is suitable for public viewing and education, but it is unsuitable for making follow-up observations of minor planets, and cannot be used for discovery projects. Our next goal is to develop a robotic facility for producing essential astrometric and photometric data on NEOs in support of the Minor Planet Centre in the USA and the Spaceguard Central Node in Italy. A future development will be remote operation via the Internet.
The equipment specified in this proposal will produce astrometric data on the majority of NEOs that are discovered by current detection programmes, and will provide a significant detection/discovery capability. Further details of the project and equipment requirements are available from The Spaceguard Centre ... [link to home site of project for more in depth information]