National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Small Worlds, Big Discoveries Banner
Research Programs

Here are a few of the current research efforts devoted to the primitive bodies of the solar system. Know of a program or project that ought to be listed here? Let us know!

NASA Near-Earth Object Program

The NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office was established at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1998 to coordinate NASA-sponsored efforts to detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that could approach the Earth.

Asteroid Watch website > (NASA/JPL)
Near-Earth Object Program website > (NASA/JPL)


Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) is an MIT Lincoln Laboratory program funded by the United States Air Force and NASA. The goal of LINEAR is to demonstrate the application of technology originally developed for the surveillance of Earth orbiting satellites, to the problem of detecting and cataloging near-Earth asteroids-also referred to as near-Earth objects (NEOs)-that threaten the Earth.

LINEAR webpage > (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

NEOWISE Space Infrared Survey

NEOWISE is the term used to describe the near-Earth object observing capability of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope. An infrared space telescope designed to detect some of the faintest objects in space WISE discovered 19 comets and more than 33,500 asteroids during its nine-month primary mission alone, snapping more than 1.8 million images. The spacecraft reached the end of its onboard supply of frozen coolant in October 2010, but continued to survey the sky for asteroids and comets as part of its "warm mission" until February 2012. Data collected by WISE are still being analyzed by scientists and continue to yield fresh discoveries.

WISE mission website > (University of California, Berkeley)

The Spacewatch Project

The primary goal of Spacewatch is to explore the various populations of small objects in the solar system and study the statistics of asteroids and comets in order to investigate the dynamical evolution of the solar system -- that is, the movement and arrangement of families of objects over time. The project scans the skies, performing studies of the Centaur, Trojan, Main-Belt, Trans-Neptunian and Earth-approaching asteroid populations. Spacewatch also finds potential targets for interplanetary spacecraft missions, provides follow-up measurements of the positons and movements of such targets, and finds objects that might present a hazard to the Earth.

Spacewatch website website > (University of Arizona)

Catalina Sky Surveys

The Catalina Sky Surveys (CSS) is currently the most efficient NEO survey program for finding new near-Earth objects. The mission of the Catalina Sky Survey is to contribute to the inventory of near-earth objects (NEOs) -- specifically, the potentially hazardous asteroids that pose an impact risk to Earth and its inhabitants. The CSS is operated in such a manner that same-night follow up on newly discovered objects can usually be done, facilitating the rapid determination of orbits and thus the specific hazard posed by the newly found objects.

Catalina Sky Surveys website > (University of Arizona)

Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA