As part of the agency's Asteroid Grand Challenge, NASA is partnering with private internet technology company Slooh to engage citizen scientists in the effort to track and characterize near-Earth asteroids (NEOs) that are potentially hazardous to human populations.
Slooh's global network of web-connected telescopes will be available for use by amateur astronomers for monitoring and characterizing NEOs. Citizen scientists without access to professional equipment will have the opportunity to be a part of the global challenge to find hazardous NEOs. NASA also is partnering with Slooh on live astronomy events.
"We are excited by the opportunity to tap into Slooh's network of amateur astronomers, who are already producing scientific papers with their work," said Jason Kessler, program executive for the Asteroid Grand Challenge. "We look forward to expanding the meaningful science the Slooh network can provide in support of the grand challenge."
The live astronomy events on which NASA and Slooh will partner include the LINEAR comet meteor shower, occurring Friday, May 23, and Saturday, May 24. Slooh will provide live feeds of the event from 6 p.m. EDT Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday on the company's website and the UStream feed for
NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, at: www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc.
Live astronomy events through the NASA and Slooh platforms increase the number of people who can watch and actively participate in science as it happens. Future events will include NASA experts offering commentary on live events. Slooh plans to provide NASA with relevant observation data from these events, which may be used for grand challenge citizen science efforts.
"This partnership is a great validation of our approach to engage the public in the exploration of space," says Michael Paolucci, founder and CEO of Slooh. "NASA understands the importance of citizen science and knows a good way to get amateur astronomers involved is to offer them ways to do productive astronomy. Slooh does that by giving them remote access to great telescopes situated at leading observatory sites around the world."
The Asteroid Grand Challenge is built on such collaborative efforts. The partnership with Slooh augments grand challenge partnerships with SpaceGambit and Planetary Resources Inc., and extending the search from existing data to direct observation through telescopes.
Through NASA's asteroid initiative, the agency seeks to enhance its ongoing work in the identification and characterization of near-Earth objects for further scientific investigation. This work includes locating potentially hazardous asteroids and identifying those viable for redirection to a stable lunar orbit for future exploration by astronauts. The Asteroid Grand Challenge, one part of the asteroid initiative, expands the agency's efforts beyond traditional boundaries and encourages partnerships and collaboration with a variety of organizations.
For more information on NASA's asteroid initiative, visit: www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative.