September 22, 2013
NASA Highlights Asteroid Initiative At World Maker Faire
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
This weekend, NASA reached out for the public's help in tracking potentially hazardous asteroids at the World Maker Faire.
The World Maker Faire took place September 21 and 22 at the New York Hall of Science. This event is a festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness that has been around since 2006. The Maker Faire has been known for some interesting booths in the past, including a human-sized Mouse Trap board game for its 65,000 attendees to play back in 2008.
NASA wanted to capitalize on this event by asking attendees for ideas on how to find and track potentially hazardous asteroids, and protect the planet from their impacts. The space agency asked attendees to program science hardware and learn how small, do-it-yourself projects could be used to help track and understand these asteroids, using their own computers.
"Unlike traditional NASA missions of exploration and science, this grand challenge is driven by the idea that protecting our planet is an issue bigger than any one program, mission or country,” NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck said in a press statement. “For the first time, NASA has reached out to industry, academia, stakeholder organizations and private citizens for ideas on how to find, track and deflect asteroids. These partnerships represent a new way of doing business for NASA and a call to action for Makers: join us to become a critical part of the future of space exploration."
Asteroids are increasingly becoming an interest at NASA, with the space agency even planning a mission to land man on a space rock in the near future. NASA selected 96 asteroid initiative ideas about how to protect Earth from an impact and which space rock man should explore first. Some of these ideas included how to decrease an asteroid's spin, nudge it away from a path toward Earth and take samples to return to Earth.
The space agency revealed some new imagery around a proposed asteroid redirect mission back in August. During this mission, a spacecraft would be sent to an asteroid for capture. After this, NASA plans to have a manned mission visit this asteroid in order to gather samples to return back to Earth.
“This mission represents an unprecedented technological feat and allows NASA to affordably pursue the Administration’s goal of visiting an asteroid by 2025,” NASA said. “It raises the bar for human exploration and discovery while taking advantage of the diverse talents at NASA.”
While the plans to head to an asteroid are still in development, NASA's successful landing of Curiosity last year shows it has a proven track record of making innovative ideas come to life.