NEO Surveyor's orbit has been carefully designed to maximize scientific discovery while minimizing cost, complexity, and risk. Similar to NASA's SOHO and Genesis missions, NEO Surveyor will occupy a region of space fairly close to the Earth (in astronomical terms) called the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange point. This vantage point at L1, which is about four times further away than the Moon and interior to the Earth along the Earth-Sun line, allows NEO Surveyor to view a large fraction of the Earth's orbit at any given time, and the sunshade (based on the 1983 IRAS mission) allows it to look close to the Sun.
This region of space is ideal for NEO Surveyor. It will allow the observatory to maintain a nearly constant distance from Earth (about 1 million kilometers): far enough away to provide a stable, cold environment, yet close enough to support the high-speed radio communications needed to send NEO Surveyor's large-format images back to Earth. The return of these large-format images will allow astronomers to detect even the faintest asteroids and comets with great sensitivity.
NEO Surveyor's Viewing Geometry - NEO Surveyor's location inside the Earth's orbit and unique ability to survey for asteroids as close as 45 degrees to the sun means that it can cover a much larger fraction of the region of space where hazardous asteroids are located. Over the course of 4 years, approximately two-thirds of all potentially hazardous asteroids will pass within this viewing window and be observed, detected, and reported by NEO Surveyor. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)