LONEOS is a system designed to find Earth-crossing asteroids (ECAs) and comets (ECCs), collectively known as near-Earth objects (NEOs). These objects can occasionally collide with Earth sometimes with devastating consequences. Finding large NEOs is the first step in averting a collision.
For a good description of NEOs, see The Spaceguard Survey .
It is thought that there are about 1600 ECAs larger than 1 km in diameter. Only about 100 are known. To find the remainder - or most of them - will require dedicated telescopes that survey the sky for many years. Currently, only one such search telescope is in full-time operation: Spacewatch .
LONEOS, and other systems under development, will supplement the work of Spacewatch. LONEOS should have the capability to scan the entire dark sky accessible from Flagstaff, Arizona, three times per month for a magnitude limit near V=20. After 10 years of full-time operation, we estimate that LONEOS could discover 1000 of the large NEOs and perhaps twice as many smaller ones, thus increasing our knowledge of these bodies by an order of magnitude. For an expanded description of LONEOS, refer to a recent abstract.