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Project Information

Project Information


Near Earth Object Observations in the Infrared and Visible Wavelengths


Project Scope:

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will establish an ad-hoc committee to investigate and make recommendations about a space-based telescope's capabilities regarding the following:

  • Explore the relative advantages and disadvantages of IR and visible observations of near Earth objects (NEOs).
  • Review and describe the techniques that could be used to obtain NEO sizes from an infrared spectrum and delineate the associated errors in determining the size.
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these techniques and recommend the most valid techniques that give reproducible results with quantifiable errors.

Status: Current

PIN: DEPS-SSB-18-03

Project Duration (months): 14 month(s)

RSO: Day, Dwayne

Board(s)/Committee(s):

Space Studies Board

Topic(s):

Space and Aeronautics



Geographic Focus:

Committee Membership

Committee Post Date: 11/28/2018

H. Jay Melosh - (Chair)
H. JAY MELOSH (NAS) is a Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Physics, and Aerospace Engineering at Purdue University. Dr. Melosh’s previous positions include professor of planetary sciences at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, associate professor of planetary science at California Institute of Technology, and associate professor of geophysics at State University of New York. He has made many important contributions to Earth and planetary sciences, including definitive studies of the collisional origin of the Moon and the process of impact cratering. His other major contributions include acoustic fluidization, dynamic topography, and planetary tectonics. He is active in astrobiological studies relating chiefly to microorganism exchange between the terrestrial planets. Dr. Melosh is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He received his A.B. in physics from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in physics and geology from Caltech. Dr. Melosh has previously served on the Committee on NASA Technology Roadmaps, the Committee to Review Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies, and the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration.
Yanga Fernandez
YANGA FERNANDEZ is an associate professor at the University of Central Florida where he is an astronomer with over 20 years’ experience in ground- and space-based telescopic observations and analysis of Solar System small bodies. He uses imaging and spectroscopy from visible, infrared, and radio-wave telescopes to study the composition, behavior, thermal properties, surface properties, interior structure, and spin states of comets and related populations such as near-Earth asteroids, Trojans, Centaurs, and trans-Neptunian objects. His research program has the overarching goal of characterizing the evolutionary processes that these objects have suffered since their formation in our Solar System’s era of planetary formation. He earned his Ph.D. for astronomy from the University of Maryland, College Park. He has previously served on the Academies’ Survey Detection Panel.
Alan Harris
ALAN HARRIS is a senior scientist, retired, at the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin, and holds an honorary chair at Queen’s University Belfast, UK. He leads research projects in solar system science, including observations and modelling of the physical properties of asteroids, and has pioneered radiometric data-analysis techniques applicable to the study of small asteroids. Derivatives of his Near-Earth Asteroid Thermal Model (NEATM) have been incorporated into data processing pipelines used by NASA’s NEOWISE project, and researchers using NASA’s WISE and Spitzer space telescopes and other facilities. Dr. Harris received a B.S. and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Leeds, UK. He has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Bhavya Lal
BHAVYA LAL is a research staff member at the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute. Her research and analysis focuses on space technology and policy and is frequently incorporated in national policy documents. Recent and ongoing projects include supporting the Office of Science and Technology Policy and other Federal agencies in developing a national space technology strategy, improving detection of near Earth objects, evaluating a civilian space situational awareness capability, documenting global trends in space, and examining recent commercial activities in space including their legal ramifications related to the Outer Space Treaty. Before joining STPI, Dr. Lal was president of C-STPS, LLC, a science and technology policy research and consulting firm in Waltham, Massachusetts. Prior to that, she was a researcher and the director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Studies at Abt Associates, Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Lal holds a B.S. and M.S. in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an M.S. from MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, and a Ph.D. for public policy and public administration at George Washington University. She has served on the Academies’ Committee on Space Radiation Effects Testing Infrastructure for the U.S. Space Program, the Committee on Achieving Science Goals with CubeSats, and the Committee on Space-Based Additive Manufacturing of Space Hardware.
Lucy-Ann McFadden
LUCY MCFADDEN is retired from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center where her research focused on the study of small bodies in the solar system, primarily asteroids and comets. She began her career at MIT where she learned the fundamentals of the interaction of light with solid surfaces, continued and completed her graduate work at U. Hawaii using the available telescopes of Mauna Kea Observatory to conduct an early survey of the reflectance of near-Earth asteroids to determine their mineralogy and origin. As a post-doc she participated in the International Halley watch using the International Ultraviolet Explorer telescope. Her research career continued as science team member and co-investigator of the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, Deep Impact, EPOXI missions; and continues today as co-investigator for NASA’s Dawn mission with a spacecraft orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres. Most recently, she led the search for moons around the Dawn mission’s targets, Vesta, and Ceres. This process has similarities to searching for near-Earth objects. She was editor of The Encyclopedia of the Solar System, 1st and 2nd editions, and has served in an elected leadership position for the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences. She has previously served on the Academies’ Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration and the Committee on Data Management and Computation.
George H. Rieke
GEORGE RIEKE (NAS) is a Regents Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences at the Stewart Observatory at the University of Arizona. Dr. Rieke has worked extensively in the development of innovative far-infrared detector arrays and instrumentation, and their astronomical applications, including the first infrared-optimized telescope. Dr. Rieke is the principal investigator for the multiband imaging photometer, which provides imaging and spectroscopic data at far-infrared wavelengths for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and is the lead scientist on a mid-infrared instrument for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2011. Dr. Rieke earned his B.A. in physics from Oberlin College and his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University. He has previously served on the Academies’ Astro2010 Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space and Committee on Space Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Andrew Rivkin
ANDREW RIVKIN is a planetary astronomer at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. His research involves taking and analyzing infrared spectra of asteroids. He has researched asteroids for over 20 years, with 26 first-author peer-reviewed papers on asteroids and small bodies and as a co-author on an additional 55 peer-reviewed papers as of mid-2018. Many of these focused on NEOs specifically. In addition to these papers, he has led chapters in both the Asteroids III and Asteroids IV books, led and contributed to chapters in other books, and wrote a textbook on small bodies. He has led the update to the Small Bodies Assessment Group Science Goals Document. With a research focus of asteroids, including NEOs, Dr. Rivkin has been involved in many planetary defense studies over the years. He was a participant in the 2006 NASA Near-Earth Object Detection and Threat Mitigation Workshop in Vail and contributed to the final report, and participated in several of the AIAA Planetary Defense Conferences since then. He is the investigation co-lead for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), now in Phase C. He earned his Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona. He has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Daniel J. Scheeres
DANIEL J. SCHEERES (NAE) is the A. Richard Seebass Endowed Chair and professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences. Dr. Scheeres has studied the dynamics of the asteroid environment from a scientific, engineering, and navigation perspective since 1992 and has been involved with NASA’s NEAR mission to asteroid Eros, the Japanese Hayabusa missions to asteroids Itokawa and Ryugu, and is currently a co-investigator on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu and leads the Radio Science team of that mission. He has published a Springer-Praxis book on orbital mechanics about small bodies entitled Orbital Motion in Strongly Perturbed Environments: Applications to Asteroid, Comet and Planetary Satellite Orbiters. Asteroid 8887 is named “Scheeres” in recognition of his contributions to the scientific understanding of the dynamical environment about asteroids. Dr. Scheeres is a fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Astronautical Society. He has been awarded the Dirk Brouwer Award from the American Astronautical Society. He earned his Ph.D. for aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan. He has served on the Academies’ Committee on Assessment of the U.S. Air Force's Astrodynamic Standards and the NEO Mitigation Panel.
Edward F. Tedesco
EDWARD TEDESCO is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. Dr. Tedesco has been making and interpreting physical observations of asteroids since 1975. He was among the first to note that the size-frequency distributions for some asteroid families differed from that for non-family asteroids (Tedesco, 1979), that asteroid rotation rates are not inversely propor¬tional to size, and to recognize the de¬tailed compositional structure of the main asteroid belt. He played a key role in establishing the second-generation asteroid taxonomy, in the data reduction and publication of the IRAS Minor Planet Survey, and was the first to model the efficiency of dis¬covering NEOs using a space-based infrared sensor. He has made astrometric, light¬curve, multi-color photometry, phase curve, polarimetric, and ra¬diometric observations using 0.4 to 8-meter ground-based telescopes and the IUE, IRAS, MSX, ISO, and Spitzer spacecraft (and was to have done the same on the WIRE mis¬sion). He was principal investigator on a project providing support for U.S. members of the Canadian NEOSSat mission. Dr. Tedesco received a B.S. in physics from St. Johns University, a M.S. in physics from Fordham University, a M.S. in astronomy from New Mexico State University, and a Ph.D. in astronomy from New Mexico State University. He has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Dwayne A. Day - (Staff Officer)

Comment on Provisional Committee Appointments


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Please note that the appointments made to this committee are provisional, and changes may be made. No appointment shall be considered final until we have evaluated relevant information bearing on the committee's composition and balance. This information will include the confidential written disclosures to The National Academies by each member-designate concerning potential sources of bias and conflict of interest pertaining to his or her service on the committee; information from discussion of the committee's composition and balance that is conducted in closed session at its first event and again whenever its membership changes; and any public comments that we have received on the membership during the 20-calendar day formal public comment period. If additional members are appointed to this committee, an additional 20-calendar day formal public comment period will be allowed. It is through this process that we determine whether the committee contains the requisite expertise to address its task and whether the points of views of individual members are adequately balanced such that the committee as a whole can address its charge objectively.


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