NASA's Asteroid Data Hunter contest series was part of NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge, which is focused on finding all asteroid threats to human populations and knowing what to do about them. Image Credit: NASA

NASA Releases New Software Application to Find Asteroids by Space Enthusiasts

NASA’s new software Asteroid Data Hunter will now help amateur astronomers took at sky and spot new asteroids easily and get confirmation from NASA too. Besides they can spot approaching asteroid towards Earth.

The desktop software application was developed jointly by Planetary Resources Inc of Redmond, Washington, D.C. and NASA. It has a 15% better and easier detection capability to detect new asteroids in our solar system’s main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.

The application uses Asteroid Data Hunter-derived algorithm that analyses images for potential asteroids and it can be a better tool ofr amateur astronomers and citizen scientists, said NASA. It is released as part of NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge.

The Big Dipper rising behind the Catalina Sky Survey 60″ telescope. Image Credit: Catalina Sky Survey, University of Arizona

“The Asteroid Grand Challenge is seeking non-traditional partnerships to bring the citizen science and space enthusiast community into NASA’s work,” said Jason Kessler, program executive for NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge.

The challenge has been successful in making a tangible difference to asteroid hunting astronomers and highlights the possibility for more people to join the frey to find asteroids in our planet, he said.

Usually, astronomers spot asteroids by taking images of the same place in the sky and looking for star-like objects that move between frames, an approach that has been in vogue since the days of discovery of Pluto in 1930.

With enormous finidngs in the sky, it is difficult to verify each finding by the old method and the new algorithm provides an extra edge to astronomers to use computers to rapidly check the images and determine which objects are suitable for follow up that leads to finding more asteroids than previously possible.

NASA is offering the desktop software application for free and it can be downloaded from HERE.

The main attraction of the new application is that it tells the amateur astronomers who take images from their telescopes, whether a matching asteroid record exists or not and offers a way to report new findings to the Minor Planet Center, which then confirms and archives new discoveries.

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