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The Spaceguard Foundation Headquarters     Rome, March 26 1997

To: the Members of The Spaceguard Foundation

Dear friends,

 one year ago, on March 26 1996, The Spaceguard Foundation was officially set up in Rome. At one year of distance I would like to sendyou, at the same time, a brief report on the activity of the SGF and on its achievement, and my best greetings for this first anniversary and or the coming Easter. I hope that similar contacts will become more frequent in the near future.

 The first year of the SGF has been full of events and I would like to remark that the results we have obtained so far are well beyond my initial expectations. The most important of them are listed below.

1) Resolution 1080, 1996 by the Council of Europe. The text of this resolution is contained in our web page (http://www.brera.mi.astro.it/SGF/). This document, approved by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, recognized the importance of NEO observations and supports the work of the SGF, inviting governments of member states and ESA to provide support to the Foundation. This has been the first, and is still the most important, support we have received. As a first consequence of the resolution, we have had contacts with the European Space Agency, which is going to provide money for one of our five projects.

2) The Board of Directors has approved five SGF Projects to be pursued in the next 2-3 years, namely:
- Spaceguard Central Node
- Research Grants and Support
- Spaceguard Southern Telescope
- Certified Software and Information
- Data Archiving and Retrieval System

A short account on these Projects will be put in the SGF web page shortly.

2) The SGF will sign a contract with ESA, next April, for the establishment of a pilot Spaceguard Central Node. This project is aimed at alleviating the load on the MPC and at providing further connections among NEO observers, as well as an interface between the NEO community and the external world. ESA will finance the project for one year, but I have been told that there are good prospects that this support will continue afterwards.

3) The SGF has been present at the last meeting of the United Nations on basic space science, whose outcome has been a recommendation on an international network of telescopes for observing NEOs. Together with another similar recommendation about NEO observations, and with a more general statement about the possibility for an international observational center to be set up in Africa, this political support (which should increase in the future) has put the foundations for another project of the SGF, the Spaceguard Southern Telescope, to be built in Namibia. We are still at a very preliminary stage of this project, which basically consists in building and operating a large telescope facility on the Namibian desert, fully devoted to the observation of NEOs and other small bodies of the solar system.

4) The MPC is receiving some support from NASA, which has allowed a free distribution of the MPECs. This is a first step towards a deeper involvement of NASA, and is related to some of our projects.

5) There has been an agreement with The Planetary Society about the TPS Grant project, which is endorsed by the SGF. This project, funded with donations by TPS members, allows the funding of small research groups or individuals for specific projects. We hope to be able to provide a direct financial support to this initiative in the future, in line with the project Research Grants and Support.

6) Contacts have been made with Kluwer Publishing House, which is very much interested in starting a new journal devoted to NEO reserach. The structure, aims and content of this potential journal are now under discussion.

7) Two branches of the SGF have been set up in Japan and UK. Together with the already existing Spaceguard Australia Ltd., these are the first local branches, whose number should increase in the next years. This is an important point because ita has already become clear that local branches are more able than the international SGF in raising funds from local authorities and individuals.

 These are the most important points, but a number of further contacts have already been taken. The current financial situation of the SGF is not very good (we still don't have a secretary, for example) and the workload on the presidency and the Board of Directors is very large. This is why our contacts with the SGF members have not been much frequent. However, thanks to the ESA contract, things will improve in the next months. In particular, the Board has decided not to ask any fee for 1997 (except for new members): the total income would represent a tiny fraction of the ESA contract and the work necessary to process the fees is too much. A decision about membership fees for 1998 will be taken in the Fall.

 Speaking in general, the SGF is slowly becoming a point of reference for many people interested in NEO researches, and not only professionals or amateurs. We are continuing receiving messages from people with very different backgrounds, all interested in understanding what we plan to do. The SGF has currently 53 members, plus 11 whose applications have already been approved and 7 more with pending applications. We have two Trustee Members: Arthur C. Clark and Fred L. Whipple.

 I am very satisfied by this first year of activity. My personal research work has suffered very much, but I think that I have gained a lot in the exchange.

 Let me thank you again for your interest and support. I sincerely hope that, at the second anniversary, we will already be able to provide a good coordination and support to all researchers, and this is the main reason why the SGF has been created.

Andrea Carusi