Amateur Asteroid Hunters Take Note: NASA and Slooh Will Ask For Your Help

by Elizabeth Howell on May 22, 2014

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Artist's impression of an asteroid breaking up. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s impression of an asteroid breaking up. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Do you lack a telescope, but have a burning desire to look for asteroids near Earth? No problem! NASA and the Slooh telescope network will soon have you covered, as the two entities have signed a new agreement allowing citizen scientists to look at these objects using Slooh.

This is all related to NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge (which includes the agency’s desire to capture and redirect an asteroid for further study.) What the two entities want to do is show citizen astronomers how to study asteroids after they are discovered by professionals, looking at properties such as their size and rotation and light reflectivity.

Additionally, Slooh will add 10 new telescopes to the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, the facility it is using until at least 2020. The hope is to add to the total of 10,957 discovered near-Earth asteroids, which include 1,472 that are “potentially hazardous.” Astronomers believe only about 30% of the 140-meter sized asteroids near Earth have been discovered, and less than 1% of 30-meter sized asteroids. (Bigger ones more than a kilometer across are about 90% discovered.)

Screenshot from a live webcast from SLOOH Space Camera.

Screenshot from a live webcast from SLOOH Space Camera.

We talk about Slooh frequently on Universe Today because it is one of the go-to locations for live events happening in the cosmos, such as when a solar eclipse occurs. NASA also plans to work with Slooh on these live events, beginning with looking at Comet 209P/LINEAR and its meteor shower when it goes past our planet Friday (May 23).

“This partnership is a great validation of our approch to engage the public in the exploration of space,” stated Michael Paolucci, the founder and CEO of Slooh.

“NASA understands the importance of citizen science, and knows that a good way to get amateur astronomers involved is to offer them ways to do productive astronomy. Slooh does that by giving them remote access to great telescopes situated at leading observatory sites around the world.”

Sources: NASA and Slooh

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Olaf May 22, 2014 at 1:05 PM

I really liked Slooh in the beginning.
Especially Slooh radio.

But then it was taken over and became way too expensive. And it still is.

“$29.95 for the first three months of service. Thereafter, Slooh will bill your credit card ***$74.85*** for quarterly membership dues.”

This is $300 per year.
When I started $99 was the maximum.

Brian Sheen May 23, 2014 at 3:37 AM

Olaf

I fear you are right I use Slooh from time to time when a need a particular image, $300 is a lot for this service.

On the plus side the special events like the upcoming meteor shower make a really useful contribution to citizen astronomy. I will be mention this tonight and tomorrow at aspecial event at Falmouth University – UK

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