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I just read the following in the NPR website news article NASA's New 'Intruder Alert' System Spots An Incoming Asteroid.

NASA pays for several telescopes around the planet to scan the skies on a nightly basis, looking for these objects. "The NASA surveys are finding something like at least five asteroids every night," says astronomer Paul Chodas of JPL.

Which telescopes are the "several telescopes around the planet to scan the skies on a nightly basis" that NASA pays?

Also, is it really roughly five new actual asteroids identified per day (almost 2,000 per year), or is that 5 objects detected, and only some small fraction turn out to actually be unique, new objects?

5 per day sounds like a lot.

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Given that the article seems to be referring to NASA's Near Earth Object Program, it appears that there are five subprograms scanning the skies:

According to JPL, CSS and Pan-STARRS are responsible for 90% of new Near Earth Object (NEO) discoveries. LINEAR is responsible for detecting objects one kilometer in diameter or greater, while NEOWISE provides additional measurements from previous WISE targets, so it isn't making new detections, merely follow-up observations.

NASA's statistics show that over 15,000 Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) have been discovered so far, from all programs scanning the sky. In each of the past three years, about 1,500 NEAs have been discovered, most by the five programs listed above. That's roughly consistent with the five-per-day claim. However, it's not yet near 2,000 per year.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, it's just the NEAs by themselves that already reach roughly 5 per day! The total asteroids per day must be much higher - I assume they can't only find near asteroids, though they can bias a bit. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 30 '16 at 15:09
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Some days there are 10 or more Minor Planet Electronic Circulars announcing new asteroid discoveries or lost asteroid recoveries. The October 30 MPECs included a follow-up observation of 2016 UR36, the same object mentioned in the NPR story. With an arc of only a few days, its orbit remains highly uncertain.

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    $\begingroup$ This is really helpful - since I can read about this object in the news and here in stack exchange, now the MPECs have more meaning to a first-timer. Within the linked update there is a link to a larger list of previous observations, and I can see the refinement of the (so far only approximate) ephemeris. The sudden rapid movement in apparent position in the first week of November must be when it passes close to Earth. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 31 '16 at 1:42

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