Near Earth Asteroid Tracking

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Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) is a program run by NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory to discover near-Earth objects. The NEAT system began observations in December 1995.

The principal investigator is Eleanor F. Helin, with co-investigators Steven H. Pravdo and David L. Rabinowitz.

NEAT has a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Air Force to use a GEODSS telescope located on Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii. GEODSS stands for Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance and these wide field Air Force telescopes were designed to optically observe Earth orbital spacecraft. The NEAT team designed a CCD camera and computer system for the GEODSS telescope. The CCD camera format is 4096 × 4096 pixels and the field of view is 1.2° × 1.6°.

Beginning in April 2001, the 1.2 metre aperture Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory was also put into service to discover and track near-Earth objects. This telescope is equipped with three cameras, each of which has its own 4096 × 4096 CCD array. This is the telescope that produced the images leading to the discovery of 50000 Quaoar in 2002, and 90377 Sedna in 2003 (published 2004).

In addition to discovering thousands of asteroids, NEAT is also credited with the co-discovery (recovery) of periodic comet 54P/de Vico-Swift-NEAT and of the high proper motion Teegarden's star.

An asteroid was named in its honour, 64070 NEAT, in early 2005.

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