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 56 grants to amateur and professional astronomers from 18 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.
Now in its 22nd year, our Shoemaker grants fund amateur observers, underfunded professional observers, and observers in developing countries who make vital contributions to NEO research. Proposals are due 30 July 2019.
Winning Shoemaker NEO grant proposers typically have existing telescope facilities and prior observing experience, but need additional funding to take their work to the next level. The program originally focused on helping to provide observers with larger telescopes and more sensitive CCD cameras to broaden sky survey coverage and increase the rate of NEO discovery. Over time, large ground and space-based survey programs have made great leaps forward in finding and characterizing very faint asteroids.
Applications for the current round of Shoemaker NEO grants are due 30 July 2019. Grant sizes are typically $5,000 to $12,000. Priority will be given to applicants who seek to improve or automate large-telescope facilities. Priority will also be given to programs that can leverage Shoemaker NEO grant funds with matching contributions from other sources.