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NEOCC turns 10
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ESA’s NEO Coordination Centre turned 10 years old this 22 of May. The Centre was inaugurated back in 2013 inside ESA’s ESRIN establishment close to Rome (Italy). It was a lucky coincidence that the Centre was opened just a few months after the most relevant asteroid impact event of the last hundred years, i.e. the Chelyabinsk event over Russia, which has fostered a surge on Planetary Defence activities ever since. The then ESA’s Space Situational Awareness Programme (since 2020 renamed as the Space Safety Programme) had been active since 2009 and had paved the way to the creation of the NEOCC.

At the time the NEOCC was inaugurated, slightly less than 10 000 NEOs had already been discovered. In just 10 years, that number has multiplied by more than three: during that period there have been twice as many discoveries as in the previous 100 years!

Since the start of operations of ESA’s NEOCC, the capabilities of the centre have steadily improved and expanded, starting from an initial federation of already existing services, and evolving into a fully independent operational system. A summary of some relevant achievements reached in these 10 years follows:

A recording of the inauguration session and the 2013 talks is available in this link.

To celebrate the event, the NEOCC staff visited the Specola Vaticana in Castel Gandolfo (in the Roman outskirts) and its meteorite collection. We are very grateful for the kind visit to the premises provided by Br. Robert Macke.

NEOCC staff at the Specola Vaticana. Credit: ESA / PDO / Vatican Observatory