NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Friday that the agency has approved a new infrared space telescope in the effort to help advance planetary defense efforts.
The Near-Earth Object Surveyor space telescope (NEO Surveyor) will move to the next phase of mission development at JPL after a successful review that moved the mission forward into preliminary design.
The NEO Surveyor was proposed to aid NASA's ability to both discover and characterize near-earth objects, like the "potentially hazardous" asteroid 2021 KT1.
KT1, the size of Seattle's Space Needle, recently hurtled past Earth at a distance of approximately 4.5 million miles and a velocity of 40,000 mph.
According to NASA, a near-Earth object is an asteroid or comet that approaches within 1.3 astronomical units of the sun.
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