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NEO Search Foundation Established
how can we stop them when we don't know what's out there Los Angeles - September 1, 1999 - The Space Frontier Foundation has announced a new program to make financial grants to astronomers involved in the search for Earth-orbit-crossing asteroids.

The first grant will be made to Professor Vladimir Shkodrov and Dr. Violeta Ivanova of the Institute of Astronomy of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The second grant will be made to Dr. Petr Pravec of the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The Grants are being issued by "The Watch," a project of the Foundation.

"It is becoming apparent that what was once ridiculed as being far fetched, an asteroid impacting the Earth, in actuality may have seriously impacted civilizations during the last few millennia," said Richard Godwin, Executive Director of The Watch. "We established this project to raise funds for asteroid detection because a large impact would produce devastating consequences for the human race if it happened now."

Asteroid observations are currently being performed by projects such as the U.S. Air Force's LINEAR program, SpaceWatch, Spaceguard and the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory's NEAT program. However, the entire space around the Earth cannot be viewed from the United States alone, so The Watch is helping to bring other observatories to the search.

"These other countries do not have the funding to obtain the latest equipment for discovering and tracking asteroids, but we want to ensure that this work gets completed as soon as possible," continued Godwin. "That means helping these very capable astronomers to do their work and report back their findings. This is a more serious global issue than the public has been lead to believe."

The grant recipients were agreed upon by The Watch Council, which includes some of the most notable names in asteroid research: Dr. Richard Binzel of MIT, Dr. Tom Gehrels of University of Arizona, Dr. Eleanor "Glo" Helin of NASA/JPL, Dr. John Lewis of University of Arizona, and Dr. Brian Marsden of The Minor Planet Center at Harvard. The Watch Council will meet and be available for interviews during the annual conference of The Space Frontier Foundation in Los Angeles on September 23-26, 1999. Dr. Alan Hale, of Comet Hale-Bopp fame, will open the conference.

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