NASA Mission Wants Amateur Astronomers to Target Asteroids

NASA Mission

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.

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