NASA Launches Near-Earth Objects Website
Asteroid Watch shares data and surveys on the asteroids and comets passing close to Earth. The Near-Earth Object Observation Program -- commonly called Spaceguard -- also plots the orbits of these objects to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to Earth.
NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory launched a new Website July 29 providing a centralized
information resource on the asteroids and comets that, relatively speaking,
whiz by Earth on a daily basis. There are a lot of them.
According to NASA, Earth is pummeled by more than 100 tons of material daily that spews off asteroids and comets, mostly just dust and very small particles. Once a day a basketball-sized object strikes Earth's atmosphere and burns up, and several times a year a fragment the size of a small car hits Earth's atmosphere.
On rare occasions, sizable fragments survive their fiery passage through Earth's atmosphere and hit the surface, becoming meteorites.
"Most people have a fascination with near-Earth objects," Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL, said in a statement. "And I have to agree with them. I have studied them for over three decades, and I find them to be scientifically fascinating, and a few are potentially hazardous to Earth. The goal of our Website is to provide the public with the most up-to-date and accurate information on these intriguing objects."
The site provides information on NASA's missions to study comets, asteroids and near-Earth objects. It also provides the basic facts and the latest in science and research on these objects. News about near-Earth object discoveries and Earth flybys will be available and made accessible on the site via a downloadable widget and RSS feed.
"This innovative new Web application gives the public an unprecedented look at what's going on in near-Earth space," said Lindley Johnson, program executive for the Near-Earth Objects Observation program at NASA headquarters in Washington.