LPL in the News
Over 20 Years of Near-Earth Asteroid Watches
Spacewatch also finds potential targets for interplanetary spacecraft missions, provides followup astrometry of such targets, and finds objects that might present a hazard to the Earth.
September 2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the first automatic discovery of a Near-Earth asteroid using software. The discovery was made on Sept. 25, 1990 by Spacewatch, at the Spacewatch 0.9-meter telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona. David Rabinowitz (now at Yale Univ.) wrote the automatic detection software, MODP (Moving Object Detection Program), and Jim Scotti was the observer at the time of the discovery, using MODP at the telescope.
The asteroid's diameter was estimated to be between 400 and 1200 meters, but the object does not get close enough to Earth's orbit to be hazardous.
For additional information, visit the Spacewatch Project website.