MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Stephanie R. Zeluck
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEFebruary 9, 1998
JPL PRESENTS A SEARCH FOR NEAR-EARTH APPROACHING ASTEROIDS
"Destination Earth: JPL's Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking
Program" will be the theme for two free public lectures, one on
Thursday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in JPL's von Karman Auditorium, the
other on Friday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in The Forum at Pasadena City
College. Seating is limited and will be on a first-come, first-
The lecture will be presented by Eleanor Helin, principal
investigator of the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program.
Helin has been active in planetary science and astronomy for
nearly 35 years at JPL and Caltech. She initiated the Planet-
Crossing Asteroid Survey from Palomar Observatory in the 1970's,
coordinated the International Near-Earth Asteroid Survey in the
1980's, and now leads the NEAT program.
NEAT is an autonomous celestial observatory located at the
U.S. Air Force's Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space
Surveillance site on Mt. Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii. It is designed
to complete a comprehensive search of the sky for near-Earth
asteroids and comets.
Since beginning operation in December 1995, NEAT has
discovered more than 15,000 objects, including 26 near-Earth
asteroids, two long-period comets and the very unique object
temporarily numbered 1996 PW, the most eccentric asteroid yet
NEAT is the first autonomous observing program of its type.
No JPL personnel are required to operate the telescope on site in
Hawaii. A Sun Sparc computer runs the observing system through
the night and transmits the data back to JPL each morning.
This lecture is part of the von Karman Lecture Series
sponsored monthly by the JPL Media Relations Office. A web site
on the lecture series is located at
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/lecture. For information call the JPL
Media Relations Office at (818) 354-5011.