Planetary Resources Inc. — that company that is developing a crowdsourced space telescope to search for asteroids — is planning to work on “crowdsourced software solutions” to make it easier to find asteroids and other near-Earth objects, using NASA-funded data.
NASA announced that Planetary Resources will receive a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement to help NASA characterize near-Earth objects. It’s the first initiative announced under NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, which the agency announced this summer as a vehicle to find threats to Earth.
A contest is planned in 2014 that will also include participation from the Zooniverse’s forthcoming Asteroid Zoo platform (which includes participation from Planetary Resources). Zooniverse is known for providing ordinary people the chance to participate in astronomical searches, including galaxies and asteroid features.
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NASA’s role will be to “develop and manage” the contest, while Planetary Resources is expected to “facilitate the use of NASA-funded sky survey data and help support the algorithm competition and review results,” the agency stated.
NASA is trying mightily to move forward with its plans to capture an explore an asteroid in the next few years, but there’s no guarantee that the agency will receive the funds it wants for it in the fiscal 2014 budget. Politicians have expressed concern that the mission is not interesting the public; besides which, the agency is already battling for funds for its commercial crew and planetary science programs, among others.