NASA Offers $35,000 Cash Prize for Citizens to Help Find Dangerous Asteroids

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By Parismita Goswami | March 14, 2014 10:00 PM EST

Citizens interested in space research, can now win prize money by saving the planet from dangerous space rocks.

NASA, the US space agency has collaborated with Planetary Resources, asteroid-mining company, to kick off a contest series named "Asteroid Data Hunter." The contest series will ask public to create algorithms that can identify asteroids in space. Asteroid Data Hunter, managed by NASA Tournament Lab has a total of $35,000 awards available. It will launch on 17 March and will continue till August.

Reuters/Carlos Barria
NASA Offers $35,000 Cash Prize for Citizens to Help Find Dangerous Asteroids

"Protecting the planet from the threat of asteroid impact means first knowing where they are. By opening up the search for asteroids, we are harnessing the potential of innovators and makers and citizen scientists everywhere to help solve this global challenge." Jenn Gustetic, NASA Prizes and Challenges Program executive, said in a statement.

The contest series ask contestants to search for new and improved techniques that can spot space rocks in pictures captured by ground-based telescopes. The solutions provided by participants should lower the number of false aspects, improve detection sensitivity and should run on all computer systems, according to the officials.

Asteroid Data Hunter is the first contest series to contribute to NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge, a broad effort that was announced last year to focus on finding potentially dangerous asteroids and finding ways to prevent them from attacking Earth.

"Current asteroid detection initiatives are only tracking one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the sun. We are excited to partner with NASA in this contest to help increase the quantity and knowledge about asteroids that are potential threats, human destinations or resource rich." said Chris Lewicki, president of Planetary Resources and chief engineer, in the statement.

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(Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria / )
NASA Offers $35,000 Cash Prize for Citizens to Help Find Dangerous Asteroids
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