NASA Is Calling All Nerds to Help Save the World

Want to be an asteroid hunter? The space agency wants your help.

National Journal
Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Alex Brown
March 10, 2014, 9:58 a.m.

NASA needs a hand find­ing as­ter­oids that threaten our plan­et — so it’s turn­ing to crowd­sourcing.

The space agency an­nounced Monday it’s look­ing for data jock­eys to help it track as­ter­oids, in­clud­ing ones that could come close — in space dis­tances — to the Earth. At stake is not only the plan­et’s sur­viv­al, but $35,000 in re­ward money that NASA is put­ting up for As­ter­oid Grand Chal­lenge win­ners.

“The di­no­saurs would have cared if they knew about this prob­lem,” says the NASA video an­noun­cing the con­test. “So let’s be smarter than them.”

So what does NASA want from cit­izen sci­ent­ists? Bet­ter al­gorithms for identi­fy­ing as­ter­oids in the im­ages it picks up with its tele­scopes. The chal­lenge is to “in­crease the de­tec­tion sens­it­iv­ity, min­im­ize the num­ber of false pos­it­ives, ig­nore im­per­fec­tions in the data, and run ef­fect­ively on all com­puter sys­tems.”

Not only does NASA want help spot­ting as­ter­oids; it’s also look­ing for ideas on what to do if it spots a dan­ger­ous space rock hurt­ling to­ward Earth. The end goal: “Find all as­ter­oid threats to hu­man pop­u­la­tions and know what to do about them.”

NASA isn’t alone in the pro­ject. Plan­et­ary Re­sources, a com­pany that plans to mine metals from nearby as­ter­oids, is also back­ing the chal­lenge. “We are ex­cited to part­ner with NASA in this con­test to help in­crease the quant­ity and know­ledge about as­ter­oids that are po­ten­tial threats, hu­man des­tin­a­tions, or re­source rich,” said Chris Lewicki, the com­pany’s pres­id­ent.

The chal­lenge could also be a boon to NASA’s goal of re­dir­ect­ing and land­ing as­tro­nauts on an as­ter­oid next dec­ade.

What We're Following See More »
19 FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS
Latest Count: 12 Trump Campaign Staffers Had Contact with Russians
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
THREE STILL UNACCOUNTED FOR
Eight Seaman Rescued as Navy Plane Goes Down Near Japan
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Eight people were rescued and three remained missing after a U.S. Navy plane crashed into the western Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, the Navy said. The C-2 “Greyhound” transport aircraft came down about 500 nautical miles (925 kilometers) southeast of Okinawa as it was bringing passengers and cargo from Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, the Navy said in a statement."

Source:
AT ISSUE: COMEY FIRING, SESSIONS’S RECUSAL
Mueller Seeks Documents from DOJ
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."

Source:
MULVANEY SAYS PROVISION ISN’T A DEALBREAKER
Trump May Be OK with Dropping Mandate Repeal
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday. The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance."

Source:
FRANKEN JUST THE BEGINNING?
Media Devoting More Resources to Lawmakers’ Sexual Misconduct
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he's gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login