A new software created by a NASA challenge, which has now been made public, can help amateur astronomers to detect possible asteroid threats in future. Analysis of images taken of our solar system’s main belt asteroids between Mars and Jupiter using the algorithm showed a 15 percent increase in positive identification of new asteroids. The free desktop software application could be used on any basic desktop or laptop computer. Amateur astronomers might take images from their telescopes and analyze them with the application. The application would tell the user whether a matching asteroid record exists and offer a way to report new findings to the Minor Planet Center, which then confirms and archives new discoveries.
Through NASA’s asteroid initiative, the agency seeks to enhance its ongoing work in the identification and characterization of near-Earth objects for further scientific investigation. This work includes locating potentially hazardous asteroids and identifying those viable for redirection to a stable lunar orbit for future exploration by astronauts using NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. The Asteroid Grand Challenge, one part of the asteroid initiative, expands the agency’s efforts beyond traditional boundaries and encourages partnerships and collaboration with a variety of organizations.