NASA Asteroid.jpg

Want to help NASA discover new asteroids? There's an app for that.

Contributed by
Mar 16, 2015, 7:29 PM EDT (Updated)

Much as SETI has already enlisted the power of the masses in the search for extraterrestrial life, NASA is now letting the public pitch in to spot new asteroids zipping around the night sky.

The U.S. space agency has developed a new piece of desktop software designed to run an algorithm and process images from a telescope to “determine which bodies are moving in a manner consistent with an asteroid,” according to The Verge. The software works in conjunction with the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, and was introduced at hipster mecca SXSW.

Basically: This new algorithm is a major accomplishment, and officials say it should be able to identify 15 percent more asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter than other methods. It’s sophisticated enough to match the findings to known asteroids, which should help with mapping. The app should also help us track the innumerable near-earth objects (NEOs) flying around out there, and hopefully spot the big one that’s gonna kill us all before it buries us in a fiery grave. Amateur astronomers can also analyze their own images captured via personal telescopes.

Considering that we can currently track just a fraction of all the asteroids flying around out there, crowdsourcing the search could potentially open up a lot of additional processing power to do the heavy lifting. If you’re interested, you can download the app here — and keep an eye toward the sky.

(Via The Verge)