NASA Asks Public to Detect Asteroids

Grab your telescope.

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Asteroid falling toward Earth.     Photo: vencavolrab/Thinkstock

In an effort to improve our ability to identify and manage rogue asteroids, NASA and Planetary Resources have announced a partnership. The Asteroid Grand Challenge, a series of NASA-regulated contests, aims to use the agency's resources alongside public expertise to detect potentially earth-threatening asteroids in space, according to NASA.

The asteroid challenge will use existing technology from both Planetary Resources and Zooniverse and rely on crowdsourced detection of harmful asteroids, reports NBC News. These efforts are based on the fact that humans can often be better at pattern recognition than computers.

"By harnessing the public's interest in space and asteroid detection, we can more quickly identify the potential threats, as well as the opportunities," Chris Lewicki, president and chief engineer of Planetary Resources, told NASA.

This isn't the first time NASA has called upon the public for help. In NASA's Tournament Lab and ISS Longeron Challenge, the agency asked more than 600,000 coders to calculate the ideal angle for the solar panels on the International Space Station. The winners took home $30,000 in prizes, reports NBC News.  

The first Asteroid Grand Challenge contest is scheduled to open in early 2014.

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