It is good to see that Rob has got some publicity about his tenure
and I communicated with him last year about this.
By way of background, Rob is employed by the Australian National
University in Canberra and his colleagues in the northern hemiisphere
with the Catalina Sky Survey are using facilities belonging to the
University of Arizona.
The NEO Observations Program (NEOO) is a result of a 1998 US
Congressional directive to NASA to conduct a program to identify 1 km.
or larger bodies to an estimated 90 percent confidence level or better.
Then a further mandate (June, 2006) had been issued to identify
140 meter or larger bodies to the same confidence level.
So the funding for the surveys had come from NASA from what
was a set of US Congressional directives.
As I understand, the stated goal of those directive had been reached
and hence the project has come to its end.
What would probably be needed now is a new directive from somewhere.
For example, as we know, some warning of smaller in-bound objects
could be of great benefit to populations on the planet.
Rob's employer, the ANU, is the one who is ultimately pulling the plug
on the project.
It is important to appreciate that the Australian Govt is a relatively
new player in this and has been approached for support and as the article
mentions, is looking into it. It would be incorrect to say they have
said they are unwilling to help and keep in mind that given they have
not been directly involved in the project before, it would be ill advised
to bite one of the few hands that may be in a position to help.
If IceInSpace readers feel they would like to assist, I would recommend
they send a letter or email to the Minister for Industry and Innovation,
Greg Combet, or the Minister for Science and Research, Chris Evans,
recommending that a new survey should be initiated and
that as an Australian tax payer, that you are willing to see the
Government fund it. State clear reasons why, given your knowledge
of astronomy, such a new program would have merit.
Avoid being rude or abusive any more than if you just lost your job,
wanted to get employed by someone else and started the ball rolling
by abusing your potential new employer. This will not help Rob at all.
Rob certainly operates on a shoe string budget and let's hope
a new program can be initiated.