NASA partners up for crowdsourcing asteroid initiative

NASA will be leveraging the crowd in a new effort to detect near-Earth objects. The agency is teaming with Planetary Resources, Inc., to develop crowd-sourced software solutions using agency-funded data.

Through a nonreimbursable Space Act Agreement, NASA and Planetary Resources will host a series of algorithm contests using NASA-funded sky survey data. NASA will be responsible for developing and managing the contests decide which solutions are best for enhancing existing survey programs.

The first contest will launch in early 2014 and will be based on Planetary Resources’ and Zooniverse’s Asteroid Zoo platform currently in development.

“This partnership uses NASA resources in innovative ways and takes advantage of public expertise to improve identification of potential threats to our planet,” said Lindley Johnson, program executive of NASA’s near Earth object observation program. “This opportunity is one of many efforts we’re undertaking as part of our asteroid initiative.”


This agreement is the first partnership NASA has made in relation to its Asteroid Grand Challenge. The asteroid initiative will identify asteroids for scientific investigation and target ones that can be potentially hazardous to Earth and determine whether they’re candidates for redirection into orbit by the moon for further exploration by NASA.

“Asteroids hold the resources necessary to enable a sustainable, even indefinite presence in space — for science, commerce and continued prosperity here on Earth,” said Chris Lewicki, president and chief engineer of Planetary Resources. “By harnessing the public’s interest in space and asteroid detection, we can more quickly identify the potential threats, as well as the opportunities.”

The partnership with Planetary Resources was announced Nov. 21 at NASA’s Asteroid Initiative Ideas Synthesis Workshop in Houston.

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