NASA comes down to earth to find amateur asteroid hunters

Mar 18, 2015, 5:30 AM | Updated: 6:53 am
...

PHOENIX — Only a few people ever get the chance to go into space, but that does not mean average Joes are useless to NASA.

The space agency announced this week it has opened up a new software program aimed at letting anyone help NASA discover asteroids.

“What we’re looking for are folks to take images of the night sky and now they have an easy software application that enables those images to be searched for asteroids,” said Jason Kessler, program executive with NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge.

The software, developed by private software engineers, works by comparing different images of the same part of the night sky to spot changes that could signify an asteroid, Kessler said.

The program was first developed using images from the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey and data provided by the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Since the program’s introduction, there has been a 15 percent increase positive identification of new asteroids. Kessler said opening the software up to the public is expected to continue increasing that rate.

Kessler said people simply have to download the software to their computer and then begin uploading their own images of the night sky.

Discovering new asteroids is an important study said Kessler and NASA is hoping to be able to study parts of the night sky from all areas of the globe, particularly those that might be difficult or costly for NASA researchers to get to.

“One only needs to think back to February 2013 and remember the Chelyabinsk air burst that happened in Chelyabinsk Russia — it put a thousand people in the hospital and caused $40 million in damage — to remember that we have a very busy neighborhood,” Kessler said.

Participants can even be part of the naming process, he said.

The software is available for free at NASA.gov.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Phoenix man allegedly shoots wife, kills self after hours of talking to police

A woman was hospitalized and a man died from suicide hours after police surrounded his home in response to a domestic dispute, authorities said. 
5 hours ago
Luis Torres Jaramillo was sentenced to over 9 years in prison for his involvement in a drug traffic...
KTAR.com

Arizona man sentenced to over 9 years in prison for drug trafficking

An Arizona man was sentenced last month to over nine years in prison for his role in a drug trafficking organization, authorities said. 
5 hours ago
(Arizona Department of Public Safety Photo)...
KTAR.com

AZDPS using tattoo recognition technology to identify unknown persons

The Arizona Department of Public Safety has used tattoo recognition technology to identify two deceased persons in the state since June 23.
5 hours ago
(Facebook photo / Native Renewables)...
Alex Weiner

EPA grants over $225,000 to environmental justice programs in Arizona

The Environmental Protection Agency announced $225,000 tp programs addressing environmental justice in Arizona on Thursday.
5 hours ago
...
troy hill | cronkite news

Arizona organizations make homes more sustainable with 3D printing, foam

Amid global climate change and a chronic shortage of affordable housing, local construction companies and nonprofits are taking innovative steps to make homes more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable.
5 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/@ArizonaDOT)...
KTAR.com

Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from Aug. 12-14

Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
NASA comes down to earth to find amateur asteroid hunters