The world’s telescopes found a record number of near Earth objects (NEOs) in 2014, with 1,470 asteroid discoveries in the past year.  This was a 42 percent increase over the number of NEOs found in 2013. The running total of Near Earth Objects (with known orbits) reached 12,043 by the end of the year.

The Pan-STARS system in Hawaii found 619 NEOs, and the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona tagged another 611. A brand new system in Chile designed to track distant galaxies in the southern sky — the Dark Energy Survey — discovered a further 131 Near Earth Objects.

While this is excellent progress, there is still much work to be done in this field. The still-unseen near Earth asteroids and comets, larger than 1 meter in diameter, are estimated to number more than two million.

Of the NEOs tracked to date, 1,533 are cataloged as “potentially” hazardous to Earth.  None of these actually threaten Earth now, but NEO orbits are not stable and random events can move them into new trajectories that could be problematic.  The official definition of potentially hazardous covers NEOs that come within 4.65 million miles of Earth and are at least 150 meters in size – about 500 feet – large enough to level Los Angeles or London.

However, the Chelyabinsk air burst in 2013 caused extensive property damage and the object was less than 20 meters in diameter.  Including Chelyabinsk-size asteroids would boost the potentially hazardous count to about 10,000 objects.

As the number of identified Near Earth Objects continues to grow, so does the need for reliable methodologies of mitigating the threat of object impact.  Deep Space Industries is developing an Electromagnetic Regolith Rocket that can use an asteroid’s own surface soil as propellant to alter the objects trajectory.  This rocket is specifically designed to deflect threatening objects that are discovered with only a few year’s warning before impact.  This innovative technology would replace the controversial approach of using nuclear weapons to blow up asteroids, which would produce debris with hard-to-predict trajectories.

News from Deep Space:

Doug Jones joins Deep Space Industries

Deep Space Industries is pleased to announce that Doug Jones, formerly chief test engineer at XCOR, is joining the company’s growing team as director of propulsion systems. “We see Doug as one of the top rocket engineers in the country, and a great addition to our first-class team of small-spacecraft engineers,” said Bill Miller, the chief executive officer of Deep Space Industries. Read More…

Deep Space Industries Secures NASA Aerobrake Funding

The NIAC grant will research the manufacturing of an aerobrake system from the asteroid’s regolith (soil) collected from mining operations. The aerobrake system would act as a large heat shield that would allow the spacecraft to pass through Earth’s atmosphere, creating enough drag to slow down the payload without using propellant. Read More…

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