NEOROCKS (NEO Rapid Observation, Characterization and Key Simulations) is an EU H2020 project coordinated by INAF and involving 12 partners from 8 different countries. It addresses the challenge of improving our knowledge on the physical characterization of Near Earth Objects (NEO) and of the implications for their origin and evolution as well as for planetary defence. This goal is achieved by linking the European expertise in performing small body astronomical observations and the related modelling needed to derive NEO dynamical and physical properties, to the pragmatic approach of planetary defence through developing SW systems and advanced data analysis tools.
After a difficult start, which coincided with the pandemic outspring and the shut-down of most astronomical observatories, the project has quickly recovered and has just successfully passed the first reporting period. Thanks to ASI’s long-standing experience in scientific data management, the NEOROCKS technical web portal, which includes an advanced NEO physical properties database, will be eventually migrated inside SSDC – the Agency’s Space Science Data Centre – thus becoming a permanent European asset. The “Neorockers” have also carried out intensive data dissemination and public outreach activities editing newseltters and video, available on the project website, and paying special care to the very young generations, to whom the NEOROCKS4Kids section is devoted.
Figure caption: The NEOROCKS logo pays tribute to the astronomical techniques that allow to understand the composition of asteroids analysing the light reflected by their surfaces.