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Help NASA discover asteroids with this new desktop app

The perfect app for the astronomer in us all.


Lisa Granshaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 17, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 7:02 am CDT

A new desktop application released by NASA is allowing the public to assist the agency in a little asteroid hunting. The app was announced at a South by Southwest panel and was developed with Planetary Resources, Inc.

The algorithm used by the free app looks for potential asteroids in images. It was created by the Asteroid Data Hunter challenge, which was part of the agency’s larger Asteroid Grand Challenge. 

“Amateur astronomers may take images from their telescopes and analyze them with the application. The application will tell the user whether a matching asteroid record exists and offer a way to report new findings to the Minor Planet Center, which then confirms and archives new discoveries,” NASA explained in a statement

NASA hopes that through this app and their asteroid initiative they can continue to identify objects that might be dangerous or worthy of more investigation.

“We applaud all the participants in the Asteroid Data Hunter challenge. We are extremely encouraged by the algorithm created and it’s already making a difference. This increase in knowledge will help assess more quickly which asteroids are potential threats, human destinations or resource rich. It has been exciting for our team to work with NASA on this project, and we also look forward to future space-based systems leveraging these results,” Planetary Resources president and chief engineer Chris Lewicki said in the same statement.

You can download the app from the topcoder website.

H/T IGN | Image Credit: Catalina Sky Survey, University of Arizona

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*First Published: Mar 17, 2015, 8:50 pm CDT