What is NEOSSat?
NEOSSat (Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite) is a satellite designed to identify and track objects in space, such as asteroids, comets and other satellites. One of the main purposes of NEOSSat's telescope will be tracking asteroids on a potential collision course with earth. The telescope will also be able to track space debris that could collide with other satellites and cause failures of major telecommunications systems.
NEOSSat is a miniaturized low earth orbit (LEO) satellite about 143 pounds and the size of a large suitcase. Orbiting close to earth enables a polar orbit that affords almost constant sunlight and a darker sky. From that vantage point, the telescope on NEOSSat will be able to monitor an area within 45 degrees of the sun. That area is very difficult, if not impossible, to observe from Earth-based telescopes and is also an area where near Earth asteroids tend to be concentrated.
NEOSSat is in development as a joint project of Defence Research Development Canada (DRDC) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The satellite is expected to launch in 2010.