NASA is really getting into this crowd-sourcing thing. The space agency asked and the public responded with hundreds of ideas of what missions could be done with asteroids in regards to protecting Earth from these space rocks and finding an asteroid humans can explore. NASA received over 400 responses to their “Asteroid Initiative Request For Information” request, hearing from the space industry, universities, and the general public.
Now, after looking at all the responses, NASA has chosen 96 ideas it regards as most promising, ranging from asteroid observation plans to asteroid redirection, deflection or capture systems, to creating crowd sourcing and citizen science opportunities.
Next, NASA will host an Asteroid Initiative Idea Synthesis Workshop where NASA personnel and the space community will discuss and further these 96 ideas to narrow them down even further to help with its planning activities and future missions.
The 96 ideas were chosen by a team of NASA scientists, engineers, and mission planners who evaluated the proposed ideas. The evaluation team rated the responses for relevance to the RFI objectives, innovativeness of the idea, maturity of the development approach, and potential to improve mission affordability.
This is the first time NASA has used this type of crowd-sourcing and discussion method to look at possible future missions.
NASA said the ideas proposed “provide the agency with fresh insight into how best to identify, capture and relocate a near-Earth asteroid for closer study and respond to asteroid threats.” Ideas included pointers on how to decrease an asteroid’s spin, nudge it away from a path toward Earth, take samples to return to Earth and create activities to heighten public awareness of not only the threat asteroids pose, but the valuable resources and scientific benefits they may offer.
“This rich set of innovative ideas gathered from all over the world provides us with a great deal of information to factor into our plans moving forward,” said Robert Lightfoot, Associate Administrator for NASA. “We’re making great progress on formulating this mission, and we look forward to discussing further the responses we received to the RFI.”
The upcoming public workshop will be held on Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 and onsite participation is limited to just the presenters, but it appears the workshop will be webcast (more info later), as NASA said they will release information on virtual participation options as the workshop nears.