Brief history of the Spaceguard Foundation

Brief history of the Spaceguard Foundation

The idea of setting-up an international organization taking care of the coordination of the observational activity in the study of Near-Earth Objects has been put forward several times in the past few years.

Since the establishment of the two NASA Working Groups aimed at the investigation of the hazards posed by NEOs (Discovery WG, under the chairmanship of Dave Morrison, and Interception WG, under the chairmanship of Jurgen Rahe and John Rather), it was felt that the intrinsic internationality of the issue would have required a broad participation from different countries.

It is mainly for that reason that the Commission 20 of the International Astronomical Union (Positions and Motions of Asteroids, Comets and Satellites), under the presidency of Richard West (1988-1991), has taken the initiative of presenting to the XXIst General Assembly in Buenos Aires (1991) a Resolution, with the participation of five more commission. This Resolution asked for the establishment of an ad hoc Intercommission Working Group, with the aim of investigating the threat posed by NEOs and of facilititating a broad international participation to the discussion.

The Working Group on Near-Earth Objects (WGNEO), chaired by Andrea Carusi as the new President of Commission 20 (1991-1994), has produced a report to the XXIInd IAU General Assembly in The Hague (1994), in which it was recommended that the investigations and initiatives related to NEO studies be put under the patronage of some international authority.

The WGNEO has then organized a workshop in the island of Vulcano (Italy), in September 1995, with the title Beginning the Spaceguard Survey. The aim of the workshop was to emphasize the need for a coordinated effort, and to put the basis for an effective international cooperation on the subject.

During an extended discussion of the current situation, the participants to the Vulcano Workshop decided to set up a Spaceguard Foundation, an organization which would have helped in sustaining and coordinating the current research efforts worldwide.

The WGNEO, at its meeting in the last day of the Vulcano Workshop has then decided to establish a small sub-committee (E. Shoemaker, D. Steel, A. Carusi) to explore the possible ways of setting-up such an organization. In a few months it was therefore decided that the first step would have been the creation of an Italian association, named The Spaceguard Foundation, with a broad participation by the members and consultants of the WGNEO.

The Spaceguard Foundation has been officially set-up on March 26, in Rome.

On March 27, 1996, The Spaceguard Foundation has the following membership:

Sustaining Members:

Members of the Board of Directors:


(an updated list of the members can be obtained here).

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Last modified: 8 January 1999