NEOCamNear Earth Object Camera (telescope)
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"NEOCam has the double advantage of its location in space and its infrared capability to find these asteroids more easily than telescopes working at visible wavelengths from the ground," he added.
Equipped with a 0.5-m telescope, NEOCam would scan the celestial sphere in the infrared, specifically the mid-infrared wavelengths around 10 microns.
NASA is currently assessing NEOCam's viability, but in the highly competitive environment of federally funded space missions, there's no guarantee it will fly.
The NEOCam sensor is designed to be more reliable and significantly lighter in weight for launching aboard space-based telescopes.
But even with the NEOCam, NASA won't be able to make the deadline established in the 2005 NASA authorization act, which stipulated that the space agency would find the location of 90 percent of near-Earth objects such as asteroids that are 140 meters or larger in size.
Led by NEOWISE principal investigator Amy Mainzer, the NEOCam spacecraft is currently about to enter the preliminary design phase.
The mission, dubbed ( Near-Earth Object Camera or NEOCam , is already in the works, but there is no word on when it might take to the skies.