Asteroid Hunters, NASA Wants You (And We Want Your Job Title)
By: Erin Ruberry
Calling all asteroid hunters! NASA wants you to participate in its Asteroid Grand Challenge, which is seeking civilian scientists to "develop improved algorithms that can be used to identify asteroids."
As the promotional video says, "The dinosaurs would have cared if they'd known about this problem. Let's be smarter than them."
Just last week, asteroid 2014 DX110 buzzed Earth at 217,000 miles away, closer than the moon's orbit. According to Discovery News, similar close calls between asteroids and Earth happen 20 times a year but it's still a little eerie.
NASA's asteroid hunter contest has a mission to prevent and protect against asteroid impacts by identifying and tracking them from on-the-ground telescopes.
"Asteroids pose both a possible threat and an opportunity for Earth: they could impact us, causing damage, OR possibly be mined for resources that could help extend our ability to explore the universe."
In a session at SXSW titled "Are We Smarter Than The Dinosaurs?" NASA introduced the contest by referencing the mass extinction of dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.
"If a 30-meter asteroid were to hit in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could wipe out an entire city, so that’s why we’re focused on that size,” said NASA Grand Challenge program executive Jason Kessler. "Ultimately our goal is to get an infrared telescope that’s away from the Earth. We recognize we need to get away from the Earth so that our field of view opens up."
“Current asteroid detection initiatives are only tracking one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the Sun," Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer of asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, Inc., said in a press release.
Thirty-five-thousand dollars in awards will be given out over six months.
It wasn't asteroids but in this clip from NASA's Unexplained Files, take a look at what the Hubble Telescope saw that seemingly defied the laws of physics: thousands of objects in space moving faster than the speed of light.