Pull out your telescope and get cozy. NASA wants your help finding asteroids.
NASA needs an asteroid it can send a spacecraft to, snare, and propel into orbit around the moon for further study. But there are loads of potentially threatening space rocks out there. So, it's eliciting help from "academics, international partners, and backyard astronomers." The White House announced the Grand Challenge today.
Ultimately the insights gained from asteroid studies could help researchers better understand the rocks and similar bodies, should one ever threaten to impact the Earth.
"This is really a call to action to find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them," NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver said in the Washington Post.
Asteroids are popping up in the news more often, partly due to efforts like NASA's mission to throw an asteroid into orbit around the moon, and also because of high interest in the precious minerals asteroids may contain.
Planetary Resources, a private asteroid mining company, recently announced a Kickstarter effort to launch an asteroid-hunting space telescope, which will also be accessible for use by educational organizations.