Remember when you were a kid playing video games, and you thought to yourself – 'man, imagine if NASA were watching this and decided to recruit me coz I'm so sharp'? And then you grew up and discovered beer. Well, NASA just called….
NASA MISSION WANTS AMATEUR ASTRONOMERS TO TARGET ASTEROIDS
A new NASA outreach project will enlist the help of amateur astronomers to discover near-Earth objects (NEOs) and study their characteristics. NEOs are asteroids with orbits that occasionally bring them close to the Earth.
Starting today, a new citizen science project called “Target Asteroids!” will support NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission objectives to improve basic scientific understanding of NEOs. OSIRIS-Rex is scheduled for launch in 2016 and will study material from an asteroid.
Amateur astronomers will help better characterize the population of NEOs, including their position, motion, rotation and changes in the intensity of light they emit. Professional astronomers will use this information to refine theoretical models of asteroids, improving their understanding about asteroids similar to the one OSIRIS-Rex will encounter in 2019, designated 1999 RQ36.
“Although few amateur astronomers have the capability to observe 1999 RQ36 itself, they do have the capability to observe other targets,” said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
“For well over 10 years, amateurs have been important contributors in the refinement of orbits for newly discovered near-Earth objects,” said Edward Beshore, deputy principal investigator for the OSIRIS-REx mission at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Image: Artist concept of OSIRIS-REx. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)