NASA Asking Global Community to Help Combat Asteroid Threat

THANKS;MIRIAM KRAMER, STAFF
WRITER for Space.com/MASHABLE

NASA
continues to broaden its search for ideas that could help prevent
killer asteroids from striking Earth.

Agency
officials will attend the World Maker Faire in New York City on
Saturday and Sunday, with the goal of convincing the global
community of inventors and tinkerers to help discover, track and
deflect asteroids that could put Earth in
peril.

At Maker Faire, NASA will highlight its
“Asteroid Grand Challenge,” a call for ideas from the public,
industry and academia that the space agency unveiled this past
June. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids
(Images)
]

“Unlike traditional NASA
missions of exploration and science, this grand challenge is driven by the
idea that protecting our planet is an issue bigger than any one
program, mission or country,” NASA chief technologist Mason Peck
said in a statement.

“For the first time, NASA
has reached out to industry, academia, stakeholder organizations
and private citizens for ideas on how to find, track and deflect
asteroids,” Peck added. “These partnerships represent a new way of
doing business for NASA and a call to action for makers: join us to
become a critical part of the future of space
exploration.”

At Maker Faire, which celebrates
innovation, resourcefulness and originality, space agency officials
will have science hardware available for makers to program. NASA
will also explain how members of the public can use personal
computers to track the orbits of asteroids.

The
Asteroid Grand Challenge — one of many challenges announced by the
Obama Administration and government agencies to spur scientific
innovation — also solicited ideas for NASA’s ambitious asteroid-capture mission, which seeks
to drag a small (roughly 25-foot) space rock into orbit around the
moon using a robotic probe.

Once there, the
asteroid could be visited by astronauts using NASA’s huge Space
Launch System rocket and Orion capsule, both of which are in
development.

The asteroid-retrieval effort
represents one way to get astronauts to an asteroid by 2025, a goal
laid out for NASA by President Barack Obama in 2010. NASA’s 2014
budget plan sets aside $100 million to start work on the unmanned
phase of the project. (Researchers at Caltech’s Keck Institute for
Space Studies in Pasadena, who proposed such a mission last year,
estimated it could be done for about $2.6 billion, but NASA
officials have said they expect it to be cheaper than
that.)

NASA received about 400 proposals in
response to its June Grand Challenge call, two-thirds of which
focused on the asteroid-capture mission. NASA officials will
discuss the top-ranking 96 asteroid-retrieval ideas in a public
workshop set to take place at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in
Houston from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

Advertisements