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The asteroid Eros as seen by the NEAR mission in 2000. Photo: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL

NASA is planning to build a spacecraft designed to search the skies for asteroids not far from Earth.

Why it matters: The telescope will help NASA get a more complete sense of how many potentially dangerous asteroids there are near our planet and what harm they may pose.

Details: The mission will survey the skies in infrared light, making it easier to see these objects that are typically dark in optical wavelengths.

  • NASA expects that the NEO Surveillance Mission will cost about $500 million–$600 million in total and will launch no earlier than fiscal year 2025, according to a presentation earlier this week.
  • The mission is expected to help NASA find 90% of near-Earth objects that are 140 meters (459 feet) in size or greater, as mandated by Congress.
  • The NEO Surveillance Mission is in line with recommendations made by a report from the National Academies released in June.

Background: NASA was surprised by a football field-sized asteroid that flew past Earth in July, highlighting the fact that the space agency's current detection methods aren't robust enough.

Where it stands: NASA's NEOWISE telescope is currently surveying the sky in infrared light, but that mission is expected to come to an end in the near future.

  • Survey telescopes on Earth are effective when it comes to finding near-Earth objects, but unlike a space-based infrared observatory, the Earth-bound telescopes require it to be night to hunt for asteroids.
  • NASA plans to launch its DART spacecraft to an asteroid in 2021 to figure out how to best redirect a space rock if one is found on a collision course with Earth.

Be smart: While the threat posed by a large asteroid could be catastrophic, the odds of one hitting Earth are also slim.

  • "It's something to be smart about, but it's not a matter of fear," NASA scientist Tom Statler told Axios in July.

Go deeper: Read more from Space News about the mission

Go deeper

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

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