NASA is awarding $35,000 to citizen asteroid hunters who participate in the Asteroid Data Hunter Challenge, a contest aimed at helping NASA and Planetary Resources initiate a better way to detect asteroids. If you have a penchant for coding and algorithms, this challenge is for you!
According to GigaOm.com, NASA announced last year that it plans to track all asteroids that pass near the Earth. But at the time, it was only able to spot 95 percent that measure larger than 3,280 feet across and 1 percent of asteroids smaller than 328 feet. The agency has since been collecting ideas for how to track, deflect and capture asteroids, including turning to citizens.
Participants will need to improve algorithms that detect asteroids in Earth-bound telescopic images. The algorithms must improve detection sensitivity, minimize false positives, ignore data errors and be compatible with any computer. Teams that succeed will have a chance at $35,000. The challenge will tentatively run through August 22, 2014.