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

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
40 mins ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

Ted Cruz doesn't think the Hunter Biden attacks are working

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told "Axios on HBO" he doesn't think the Trump campaign's focus on the Biden family's business dealings are having any sway with voters.

The big picture: After watching the Trump-Biden debate with "Axios on HBO" on Thursday night, Cruz said he thought Trump had done very well. But when asked whether he thought voters were moved by the release of the Hunter Biden emails, Cruz replied, "I don't think it moves a single voter."

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