One of the many awesome things to come out of South by Southwest a couple of weeks ago was NASA’s release of a new app, Asteroid Data Tracker, which allows the average citizen to crowdsource the presence of asteroids. Well, the average citizen with a telescope and the asteroid tracker desktop software.
The app and software were created during a crowdsourced competition produced by NASA and asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, the goal of which was to surface a better asteroid tracking algorithm. With this new software, users will be able to take images from their telescopes and use the algorithm to determine whether or not the bodies present in those images are asteroids.
According to NASA, this new algorithm is able to identify asteroids with a 15 percent higher rate than previous algorithms. The reported asteroids that are surfaced by common folks are useful for both NASA and Planetary Resources. NASA tries to keep an eye on all near-earth asteroids, hopefully to avoid any Armageddon-type situations, as well as considering candidates for potential asteroid missions. Their partner, Planetary Resources, would be interested in that as well, since it’s much easier to mine an asteroid if you can get to it.
Click here for more information about Asteroid Data Tracker, and to download.
What other kind of agencies might benefit from engaging in crowdsourcing of this nature?