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Special Issue- number 15 - 27/06/2002
A scientific publication by SGF and NEODyS

Special issue about the results of ESA call for missions
Breaking news!!!

Media summer. A worm in Manhattan or the end of the world?
by Nanni Riccobono -copyright Tumbling Stone

It is summer. Not only regular people get to go on vacation but also politicians, businessmen, chief of state, secretaries of the many departments all over the world. There is very little worthwhile to be published front page in these days. Still there is hope that something really weird, true or false, could happen. It can be a worm, an entire new species, found in Central Park in Manhattan (La Repubblica). Or it can be an asteroid bound to the Earth in less than 20 years (La Stampa). Well, we deal with asteroids. And of course this particular NEA, 2002 NT7 is not unknown to us. NEODyS - together with Sentry- computed the orbits and the VI (virtual impactors) that hit the Media all over the world yesterday. But we didn't panic. Strange. It must be because there is very little to panic about: it's early to cry an hazard, even if this particular object is a Palermo Scale 0,23, the first over the background, chances it really smash us are 1/100000 and observations are still on a short period of time: which means things could change in a few weeks. This is reality. But Media don't go with reality, they go with fiction, especially in the summer. So much they like dramatic situations that a very important in Italy, quoted on Andrea Milani that eventually, we must shoot nuclear weapons to 2002 NT7! Better do not list all the nonsense that have been published. Do we say so in name of an impossible purity of the information published by papers or TV channels? No. It is because all false alarms have harmed somehow the search in the field of NEOs and the try to understand the best mitigation techniques in case a crash would really happen.

Tumbling News ( 07/24/02 ): about asteroid 2002 NT7

Asteroid 2002 NT7, a relatively large (H=16) Apollo with a still rather poorly determined orbit, has been on the Risk Pages of both NEODyS and JPL since July 15, as it is associated to a number of Virtual Impactors. With the shrinking of the uncertainty region due to the accumulation of astrometric observations, many of the VIs found associated with the initial, very uncertain, orbit have disappeared, as is normal in such cases. Of those that have survived until today, the one related to an Earth collision on 1 February 2019 has gone up in the Palermo Technical Scale, reaching the value of +0.23, according to the computations made by NEODyS in Pisa. This means that, for the first time, the probability of a specific impact of a Near-Earth Asteroid turns out to be larger than that of the "background". It is still low though, just one chance in 100.000.

Riding the Stones - by A. Carusi - President of SGF
Six spacecrafts to study NEOs. This is a possible scenario that will be studied in the next six months by ESA. In this number of Tumbling Stone we present the six projects that have been selected by the European Space Agency for a Phase A study (see box: "The preliminary phases of a space mission") and that have been illustrated at ESRIN on June 25-26. There is a variety of different approaches: from observatories devoted to discovery and physical characterization to rendez-vous aimed at mapping the objects' interior, to combined missions designed for studying possible deflection maneuvers. The projects are here illustrated by scientists assisting the companies that have passed ESA's selection... click here for the full text

Don Quijote (who is afraid of an asteroid?) by A. Milani

The "Don Quijote" mission wants to investigate the internal structure of an asteroid, and at the same time develop and test the technology necessary, in a worst case scenario, to deflect a sizeable asteroid. The industrial proponents are Deimos Space S.L. (Spain, principal contractor) and Astrium GMBh (Germany)...
Earthguard I by S. Mottola

The Earthguard I project was proposed by the Munich-based Kayser-Threde and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin. The goal of this study is to define a space mission concentrating on the detection of those NEOs whose orbits lie mostly or entirely within the orbit of the Earth...

Mission ISHTAR by P. D'Arrigo

The ISHTAR mission, presented by Astrium Ltd, focuses on NEO characterization and probing the internal structure of a NEO with a powerful new technology: Radar Tomography, the imaging of the interior of a solid object using ground-penetrating radar...

Remote observations of NEOs from space by A. Cellino

Space activities can provide in the near future some essential breakthrough in the field of NEO investigations. For this reason, this proposal (presented by ALENIA) is focused on the option concerning the development of a dedicated space-based observatory aimed at obtaining information on some general characteristics of the NEO population as a whole...

EUNEOS: looking for NEOs from space by A. Morbidelli and V. Martinot

The EUNEOS (European NEO Survey) project is the study of the best possibilities to find NEOs from space and it is the natural outcome of a study on the distribution of Near Earth Objects, commissioned by ESA, to the group of planetary science of Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur in Nice, and performed jointly with scientists at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder and Lunar & Planetary Laboratory in Tucson ..
SIMONE: a fleet of small satellites exploring NEOs by E. Perozzi and Nigel Wells

The SIMONE proposal - a UK-Italian cooperation led by QuinetiQ, in partnership with the Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute of The Open University, Politecnico di Milano and Telespazio - addresses the issue of gaining an understanding of the diversity of the NEO population by employing a number of relatively small and low cost missions that individually encounter specific NEOs of interest....

You can visit ESA's page dedicated to this project at this page
of ESA's
General Studies Programme web site.


Click on the flags to go to the or to the version


Editor: Nanni Riccobono
Assistant Editor, web master and graphics: Livia Giacomini (

Spaceguard Foundation (SGF) is a private, non profit scientific organization aimed at supporting and co-ordinating NEO researches in the world.
NEO Dynamic Site (NEODyS) is a service offered by the University of Pisa (Italy). It provides catalogues, computation of orbits, and projection of the behavior of NEOs in the future, in order to identify possible impacts in advance.
Our sponsors:
The Astronomic Observatory of Mallorca (OAM)

Images of the heading: courtesy of NASA