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NASA SOHO Comet Search

The purpose of this project is to develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) tool that will help astronomers detect very faint comets that approach the sun, referred to as sungrazing comets. Scientists at NASA want to improve their ability to detect very dim category C comets. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (or SOHO) satellite was deployed in 1995 as a joint project between NASA and the ESA to study our sun more closely. It is considered one of the most successful NASA missions of all time, originally operating 15 different instruments to study the Sun’s interior, extended atmosphere, and the solar wind. Since launch, SOHO has discovered more than 4,000 new comets – well over half of all known comets – primarily in its Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) telescope. Official comet discovery credit will be given to competitors whose algorithms identify previously unobserved comets.

Award: $30,000 in total prizes

Open Date: January 17, 2022

Close Date: February 14, 2022

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