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-- WITH PHOTO -- TO NATIONAL, AND SCIENCE EDITORS:
Be an Asteroid Hunter in NASA's First Asteroid Grand Challenge Contest
WASHINGTON, March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA's Asteroid
Data Hunter contest series will offer $35,000 in awards over the next
six months to citizen scientists who develop improved algorithms that
can be used to identify asteroids.
This contest series is being conducted in partnership with Planetary
Resources Inc. of Bellevue, Wash. The first contest in the series will
kick off on March 17. Prior to the kick off, competitors can create an
account on the contest series website and learn more about the rules
and different phases of the contest series by going to:
Managed by the NASA Tournament Lab, the entire contest series runs
through August and is the first contest series contributing to the
agency's Asteroid Grand Challenge.
"For the past three years, NASA has been learning and advancing the
ability to leverage distributed algorithm and coding skills through
the NASA Tournament Lab to solve tough problems," said Jason Crusan,
NASA Tournament Lab director. "We are now applying our experience with
algorithm contests to helping protect the planet from asteroid threats
through image analysis."
The Asteroid Data Hunter contest series challenges participants to
develop significantly improved algorithms to identify asteroids in
images captured by ground-based telescopes. The winning solution must
increase the detection sensitivity, minimize the number of false
positives, ignore imperfections in the data, and run effectively on
all computer systems.
"Protecting the planet from the threat of asteroid impact means first
knowing where they are," said Jenn Gustetic, Prizes and Challenges
Program executive. "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."
Gustetic and Jason Kessler, Grand Challenges Program executive, will
host a panel March 10 at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin,
Texas titled "Are We Smarter than the Dinosaurs?" to talk about how
open innovation can meaningfully engage people in discussions on and
research into space exploration and help us solve problems of global
importance. They will provide an outline of the Asteroid Data Hunter
contest series and other efforts to detect asteroid threats, as well
as ideas for mitigating these threats.
"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 and Chief Engineer of
the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, Inc. "Applying
distributed algorithm and coding skills to the extensive NASA-funded
Catalina Sky Survey data set will yield important insights into the
state of the art in detecting asteroids."
Through NASA's asteroid initiative, the agency seeks to enhance its
ongoing work in the identification and characterization of near-Earth
objects for further scientific investigation. This work includes
locating potentially hazardous asteroids and identifying those viable
for redirection to a stable lunar orbit for future exploration by
astronauts. The Asteroid Grand Challenge, one part of the asteroid
initiative, expands the agency's efforts beyond traditional boundaries
and encourages partnerships and collaboration with a variety of
The algorithm contests are managed and executed by NASA's Center of
Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI). CoECI was established
at the request of the White House Office of Science and Technology
Policy to advance NASA open innovation efforts and extend that
expertise to other federal agencies. CoECI uses the NASA Tournament
Lab (NTL) for its advanced algorithmic and software development
contests. Through its contract with Harvard Business School in
association with Harvard's Institute of Quantitative Social Science,
NTL uses the topcoder platform to enable a community of more than
600,000 designers, developers and data scientists to create the most
innovative, efficient and optimized solutions for specific, real-world
challenges faced by NASA.
For more information on NASA's Center of Excellence for Collaborative
For more information on Planetary Resources, Inc., visit:
For more information on NASA's asteroid initiative, visit:
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