Discovery Statistics

The Catalina Sky Survey has discovered more NEOs than any other survey project in history. Although CSS has been active since the late 1990s, the annual trove of abundant discoveries began in 2004-2005 with the successful confluence and application of new hardware – software interfacing, and an improved data pipeline and detection algorithms. Annual discoveries increased rapidly and the project remained highly productive and for over a decade. In 2016, upgrades to large 10k x 10k survey cameras at our 1.5m and 0.7m survey telescopes has now lead to another great leap in the NEO discovery rate. The plot below indicates annual cumulative near-Earth asteroid discoveries by the main survey organizations, including CSS. The steep rise in discoveries from the late 1990s to present reflects the advent and growth of advanced electro-optical digital detectors, digital image pipeline processing and semi-automated NEO detection software.

No single project or observatory site could possibly discover all near-Earth objects. Fortunately CSS is not alone in the search for NEOs. There are a handful of both professional and advanced amatuer surveys across the globe, either partly or fully dedicated to NEO discovery or follow-up. However, the Catalina Sky Survey along with the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS project are the two dominant NEO surveys operating today. Since ~2012 these two surveys have discovered about half of all known NEOs, and discovery rates are ever-increasing with improved hardware, cameras, computing capabilities, processing speeds, and detection algorithms. A broad view of NEO discovery statistics can be found on JPL's Discovery Statistics page.