NASA needs your help to save the world

NASA wants help tracking asteroid threats
NASA wants help tracking asteroid threats.

NASA called on backyard astronomers and other citizen-scientists to help track asteroids that could endanger Earth.

The national space agency has already identified 95 percent of the potentially planet-killing NEOs (near-Earth objects) with a diameter of 0.62 miles or more, a size comparable to the meteor many scientists believe wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.

Now NASA wants to work with individuals, government agencies, international partners and academia to “find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them.” More information is available online.

Between 50 and 100 amateur astronomers are doing what is called light-curve analysis on space rocks, making repeated images of the astronomical bodies to help determine their characteristics, said Jason Kessler, program executive for what NASA calls the Asteroid Grand Challenge.

“We’re certainly going to need more help with that as our detection rate goes up,” Kessler said by telephone. He acknowledged that what NASA aims to do, at least in part, is to crowdsource asteroid detection.

Even smaller space rocks can be dangerous, whether or not they hit Earth. In February, a meteorite about 19 yards in diameter exploded over central Russia, shattering windows, damaging buildings and injuring 1,200 people.

Earlier this month, an asteroid the size of a small truck zoomed past the Earth four times closer than the moon, crossing within about 65,000 miles over the Southern Ocean south of Tasmania, Australia.

Estimates suggest that less than 10 percent of NEOs smaller than 328 yards across have been detected, and less than 1 percent of objects smaller than 109 yards in diameter have been detected, NASA said in a statement.

The initiative aims to detect all NEOs of 33 yards or larger, Kessler said.

The space agency has also announced plans for a mission to capture a small asteroid, redirect it into a stable orbit and send humans to study it as early as 2021.

U.S. lawmakers have also become interested in NEOs. In March the House of Representatives science committee held a hearing on “Threats from Space” that reviewed efforts to track and mitigate asteroids and meteors.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.

Education

Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…

Style

Fall 2014 trend: lilac

Push those gray and black sweaters aside and make room for blush and lilac.

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…