Scaling up ESA's asteroid facilities

The new heart of ESA’s Planetary Defence Office was inaugurated today, heralding a new chapter in the Agency’s work to protect Earth from dangerous near-Earth objects, aka asteroids.

For years, ESA has been dedicated to opening our eyes to hazards in space, and when it came to asteroids this meant ensuring Europe had the capability to detect, track and understand what’s out there.

In 2019, ESA adopted a renewed ’Space Safety’ programme, and ESA’s Planetary Defenders are not only building new, state-of-the-art telescopic eyes on the sky but are working with the international community to devise, build and fly missions to help test asteroid deflection for the first time.

With the greater responsibility, comes the need for expanded coordination facilities serving as the central hub for the Agency’s asteroid data and analysis efforts.

“Our new NEOCC and its activities are an important tool of international cooperation, reflecting the global character of the dangers we all face due to asteroids,” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.

“ESA’s Planetary Defence Office is in regular close contact with all major organisations monitoring asteroid risk, from NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office and their Center for NEO studies, to the UN-endorsed committees that help coordinate the global effort.

"The Planetary Defence Office is also performing technical management of the recently initiated activities on space safety within the European Union. Our activities are part of a worldwide community effort, and the NEOCC shows that Europe and ESA in particular can bring something substantial and indispensable to the table.”

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