NASA has launched a new app that gives amateur astronomers the opportunity to discover asteroids – all you need is an Internet connection, a telescope, and some spare time on your hands.
The Asteroid Data Hunter software, which was announced at South by Southwest last week, was created as part of a NASA competition in conjunction with asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, and it’s reported to be able to identify 15 percent more asteroids in our Solar System’s asteroid belt than previous technology. You can download it for Mac or PC here.
The new algorithm works by examining telescope images and then calculating which celestial bodies are moving in an asteroid-like manner. The software then attempts to match these potential asteroids against currently known near-Earth objects to work out if it’s potentially spotted something new.
All you need to do to help the process is upload your telescope images to the app. Any suspicious-looking potential asteroids can then be sent to NASA for further investigation.
The space agency is currently struggling to keep on top of all the near-Earth objects that are milling around Earth, and the potential risk they pose to our planet. But hopefully getting the public to dedicate their telescopes to the search as well will help them monitor more of the sky in more detail.
So head here to start searching. Who knows, you could one day end up having an asteroid named after you, see spacecrafts orbit your discovery or simply give humanity a world-saving heads up about a huge rocky body hurtling its way towards Earth.