Published: 
Feb 21, 2020

NASA Citizen Scientists Help Keep Us Safe from Near Earth Objects

Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are asteroids or comets whose orbits bring them near the Earth.  Sixty-five million years ago, a NEO the size of Mount Everest hit the Earth off the coast of Mexico, leading to the extinction of the dinosaurs.  More recently, in 2013, a NEO exploded near Chelyabinsk, Russia injuring about 1,500 people. 

Photo of IASC participants
NASA’s International Astronomical Search Collaboration organizes asteroid searches around the world.   These IASC participants from the Vorobyoby Gory Education Center in Moscow spotted three new objects that are possibly dangerous “Near Earth Objects”. From left to right: Egor Makushinskiy, Ivan Spasic, Dr. Denis Densienko, and Sofia Abdoldin. (Credit:  Dr. Denis Denisenko).

Now citizen scientists around the world are helping NASA locate NEOs to keep us safe from potential catastrophes. This month, citizen scientists participating in NASA’s International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) spotted three likely NEOs using images provided by the 1.8-m Pan-STARRS 1 telescope located on Haleakala, Maui. It will take more observing work to confirm these objects, but these young citizen scientists, from the Vorobyovy Gory Education Center in Moscow, Russia, are ready. Don’t worry, these objects are not presently expected to collide with Earth! 

Each year 2,100 citizen scientist groups from 80 countries participate in the asteroid searches organized by IASC.  Participation is free, and anyone interested can contact IASC by email at iascsearch@hsutx.edu.

Links: 

The IASC web site is located at http://iasc.cosmosearch.org/.

Social Media:

The IASC Facebook account is located at https://www.facebook.com/iasc.news/.

For more information on NASA Citizen Science activities visit us at https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience