NASA offers $35,000 bounty for a better asteroid-identifying algorithm

Think you can find Earth-threatening asteroids faster than NASA? Then there is a contest designed just for you: the space agency is calling for citizen scientists to find new and improved ways to track down space rocks. And this isn’t just for the good of all mankind, there’s $35,000 in prize money.The “Asteroid Data Hunter” contest starts on March 17 and runs through August. A partnership between NASA and Planetary Resources, Inc., the contest asks participants to create computer algorithms that can identify asteroids that are nearing Earth. 

NASA is looking for a few good citizen scientists to help keepEarth safe from asteroids, and it’s offering some cash to sweeten the deal — in case Earth’s continued survival wasn’t enough. The first Asteroid Grand Challenge contest is being undertaken in partnership with Planetary Resources to improve the quality of asteroid spotting algorithms with prizes totaling $35,000. The space agency hopes to develop more reliable ways to detect asteroids in images captured by ground-based telescopes. The winning Asteroid Data Hunter solution must meet several criteria before any money changes hands — it has to increase detection sensitivity, minimize the number of false positives, ignore data imperfections, and run effectively on all computer systems.

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