Eleanor F. Helin

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Eleanor Francis Helin is an American astronomer, principal investigator of the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Some sources give her name as Eleanor Kay Helin.

She has discovered (or been the lead discoverer of) more than 800 asteroids, including notably the first two Aten asteroids 2062 Aten and 2100 Ra-Shalom; the Apollo asteroids 4660 Nereus, 4769 Castalia and others; various Amor asteroids; three Trojan asteroids including 3240 Laocoon; and also 9969 Braille.

She also discovered or co-discovered some comets, including periodic comets 111P/Helin-Roman-Crockett, 117P/Helin-Roman-Alu and 132P/Helin-Roman-Alu.

She is also credited as the discoverer of the object now known as both asteroid 4015 Wilson-Harrington and comet 107P/Wilson-Harrington. Although Wilson and Harrington preceded her by some decades, their observations did not establish an orbit for the object, while her rediscovery did.

Asteroid 3267 Glo is named for her ("Glo" is her nickname).

She has been active in planetary science and astronomy at the California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for over three decades. In the early 1970s, she initiated the Palomar Planet-Crossing Asteroid Survey (PCAS) from Palomar Observatory. This program is responsible for the discovery of thousands of asteroids of all types including more than 200 in high inclination orbits, other rare and unique orbital types of asteroids, 20 comets, and approximately 30 percent of the near-earth asteroids discovered worldwide.

She organized and coordinated the International Near-Earth Asteroid Survey (INAS) during the 1980s, encouraging and stimulating worldwide interest in asteroids. In recognition of Ms. Helin's accomplishments, she has received NASA's Exceptional Service Medal. The 1997 JPL Award for Excellence was presented to Ms. Helin in recognition of her leadership of the Near-Earth Asteroid (NEAT) program. She has also received NASA's Group Achievement Award for the NEAT Team.

After conducting the PCAS photographic search program from Palomar for nearly 25 years, Ms. Helin concentrated on a new, upgraded search program using electronic sensors on a large aperture telescope: NEAT. She is the principal investigator for this program operating from JPL. In operation since December 1995, NEAT is the first autonomous observing program; no JPL personnel are on-site, only the JPL Sunspark computer which runs the observing system through the night and transmits the data back to JPL each morning for team member review and confirmation. NEAT has detected over 26,000 objects, including 31 near-earth asteroids, two long period comets and the unique object, 1996 PW, the most eccentric asteroid known (e = 0.99012940), which moves in a long-period (4110.50 a), comet-like orbit (semi-major axis 256.601 AU).

Asteroids discovered: more than 800
Only a few unusual ones are listed here
2062 Aten January 7 1976 Aten asteroid
2100 Ra-Shalom September 10 1978 Aten asteroid
2135 Aristaeus April 17 1977 with S. J. Bus Apollo asteroid
(3360) 1981 VA November 4 1981 with R. S. Dunbar Apollo asteroid
3752 Camillo August 15 1985 with M. A. Barucci Apollo asteroid
(3757) 1982 XB December 14 1982 Amor asteroid
(3988) 1986 LA June 4 1986 Amor asteroid
4015 Wilson-Harrington November 15 1979 also a comet
(4034) 1986 PA August 2 1986 Apollo asteroid
4055 Magellan February 24 1985 Amor asteroid
(4197) 1982 TA October 11 1982 with E. M. Shoemaker Apollo asteroid
4660 Nereus February 28 1982 Apollo asteroid
4769 Castalia August 9 1989 Apollo asteroid
4957 Brucemurray December 15 1990 Amor asteroid
5653 Camarillo November 21 1992 with K. J. Lawrence Amor asteroid
6456 Golombek July 27 1992 with K. J. Lawrence Amor asteroid
6489 Golevka May 10 1991 Apollo asteroid
7336 Saunders September 6 1989 Amor asteroid
8013 Gordonmoore May 18 1990 Amor asteroid
9969 Braille May 27 1992 with K. J. Lawrence
26858 Misterrogers March 21 1993    
de:Eleanor Helin

sl:Eleanor Francis Helin


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