NASA needs your help to track killer asteroids headed for Earth to keep them from destroying Earth. On June 18, NASA announced its Grand Challenge aimed to solicit ideas from academia, and the general public on how to improve the asteroid mission. Responses to the information request which also seek ideas for spotting and reducing asteroid threats are due July 18.
William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploitations and operations said that they are asking you to think about different approaches and concepts of enhancing this plan. NASA officials are confident that the asteroid mission will win Congress support once the benefits are explained.
Associate Administrator Lori Garver maintained that sending astronauts to an asteroid would not diminish NASA’s other science and exploration goals, including another lunar landing.
The initiative is an integral piece of the overall strategy and takes nothing from the other valuable work.
According to Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology policy, “If, some day, humanity discovers an asteroid headed for Earth and manages to alter its course, “it will be one of the most important accomplishments in human history.
The asteroid threat’s topic got an extra jolt after a meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15 injuring over 1,000 people, just about the same day a football-field size asteroid 2012 DA14 passed within the moon’s orbit of Earth.
The B612 Foundation has been fostering recognition on the asteroid awareness for years, and endeavors to raise money for an asteroid-hunting space telescope. Former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, the foundation’s CEO, strongly applaud NASA and the Obama administration for establishing asteroid’s detection as a national priority.
Over one million asteroids have the potential to impact Earth large enough to obliterate any major city. The Grand Challenge goal is to find these Asteroids because anything less will not meet their intent. NASA will need your help to track asteroids and will gather ideas to set up a game plan.
NASA wants you to join.
NASA aims to send out a robotic probe powered by an electric propulsion system in 2017. NASA wants you to join the Grand Challenge to hunt down asteroids. NASA needs your help in finding better ways to track threatening near-Earth asteroids and do something about it. Your ideas could become part of NASA’s vision for the next decade.
According to Lori Garver, NASA already found 95 percent of the large asteroids; they need to identify those that might be a threat to Earth. She added that the Grand Challenge was aimed on detecting, characterizing and learning how to deal with asteroids potential threat by stimulating the development of new techniques and tools. NASA wants to harness public engagement, citizen science and open innovation to help solve this global problem. They believe that there are great ideas from a myriad of great thinkers out there that they have never thought of before.
For example, the program could encourage the nanosattelite development to detect dim asteroids through expandable pop-out mirrors. It could establish school observation networks to detect asteroids through the power of crowdsourcing or offer prizes for asteroid shape software improvement.
The Obama administration proposed spending $47 million to the entire asteroid detection with $7 million of that for the Asteroid Grand Challenge and asteroid-grabbing mission preparation. The plan is to send a robotic probe toward an asteroid in 2017, so that it can be brought back around 2021 for astronauts to study.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas