Bad Astronomy

Asteroid pioneer Eleanor Helin has passed away

I just read on the Planetary Defense blog that asteroid hunter Eleanor Helin passed away a few weeks ago. She was a major force in the field of finding near-Earth asteroids, discovering or co-discovering almost 900 asteroids in her lifetime, as well as several comets (and rediscovering one object that seems to straddle the asteroid/comet line). She was principal investigator of JPL’s Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program, a system mounted on a 1.2 meter telescope that looks for threatening objects in space. She took this threat seriously, as should we all.

You can read more about this remarkable woman in an interview she did in 1998 with Thinkquest. She’ll be missed.

Thanks to Larry Klaes for sending the news.