NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge

Thursday, June 27, 2013

According to NASA, every day, Earth is bombarded with more than 100 tons of dust and sand-sized particles and about once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth's atmosphere, creates a fireball and burns up before reaching the surface.

NASA has issued a new initiative called the “Asteroid Grand Challenge"  that hopes to put government agencies and academics together with the public to figure out how to capture an asteroid and “lasso” it into the moon’s orbit for study.

"NASA already is working to find asteroids that might be a threat to our planet, and while we have found 95 percent of the large asteroids near the Earth’s orbit, we need to find all those that might be a threat to Earth," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver says in a statement. "This Grand Challenge is focused on detecting and characterizing asteroids and learning how to deal with potential threats. We will also harness public engagement, open innovation and citizen science to help solve this global problem."

Could you be the next citizen scientist?

Dr. Denton Ebel, Chair and Curator for the Division of Physical Sciences at the American Museum of Natural History, explains how this program might work.

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Guests:

Denton Ebel

Produced by:

Cassie Jones

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

Angel from Miami FL

Introduce a large object into the gravitational equilibrium of a planet and its moon. Nope, this doesn't have world-ending catastrophe written all over it.

Jul. 01 2013 09:40 AM
Jerrold Richards from Lyle, Washington

I haven't done the math, but it does seem to me that three small rocket engines located carefully on an asteroid, the pulses coordinated by a computer, could nudge its orbit over time without that much investment. If rocket exhaust were tilted slightly, rather than straight up from the asteroid, slowing of rotation could be accomplished simultaneously with the nudging, and the less rotation, the easier the nudging part of it.

Jun. 27 2013 01:50 PM

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