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Be an Asteroid Hunter in NASA's First Asteroid Grand Challenge Contest Series

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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

Innovation, visit:

For more information on Planetary Resources, Inc., visit:

For more information on NASA's asteroid initiative, visit:

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-0- 03/10/2014

/CONTACT: Sarah Ramsey, Headquarters, Washington, 202-358-1694,


PRN Photo Desk

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ST: District of Columbia Texas




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