The Near-Earth Object Surveyor space telescope (NEO Surveyor) will move to the next phase of mission development at JPL after a successful review that moved the mission forward into preliminary design.
The NEO Surveyor was proposed to aid NASA's ability to both discover and characterize near-earth objects, like the "potentially hazardous" asteroid 2021 KT1.
The agency has been on a mission to discover 90% of NEOs larger than 459 feet in size and has reportedly found around 40% of near-Earth asteroids within that range. .
In 2010, NASA completed its goal to discover 90% of all NEOs larger than 3,280 feet in size.
"Each night, astronomers across the globe diligently use ground-based optical telescopes to discover new NEOs, characterize their shape and size, and confirm they do not pose a threat to us," Kelly Fast, program manager for NASA’s NEO Observations Program, said in JPL's announcement.
The surveyor telescope would use infrared sensors to locate NEOs that pass Earth during the day from closer to the sun -- an ability not currently possible for ground-based optical observatories