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NASA Announces New Opportunities for Public Participation in Asteroid Grand Challenge

Ten new projects are providing opportunities for the public to participate in NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, which accelerates the agency’s asteroid initiative work through innovative partnerships and collaborations.

Through a Space Act Agreement since April, NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge partner SpaceGAMBIT developed ways to connect the Maker community with NASA’s asteroid work, including educational programs and tools to help astronomers and citizen scientists. Makers are creative people with a drive to answer questions and find new ways to do things.

The 10 new projects developed by SpaceGAMBIT were done in partnership with Maui Makers – a group that provides the space and tools to make new things on the island of Maui in Hawaii.

 “SpaceGAMBIT and their partners have created an incredibly wide variety of projects that speak to the strong interest in asteroids and passion of the public to participate in space-related activities,” said Jason Kessler, program executive for the Asteroid Grand Challenge. “These projects will inspire NASA audiences and the broader community to learn and get involved.”

The 10 projects are:

  • Asteroid Hackathon: Engage astronomers, space geeks, coders, and interested citizens to help make Earth safer by re-imagining asteroid data. Read more about the Hackathon here:
  • Asteroid Response Center: An interactive multimedia installation focusing on asteroid science and planetary protection. The presentation has been exhibited at Burning Man 2014 and World Maker Faire New York.
  • Ultrascope: An automated robotic observatory that can be laser-cut and 3D printed at home.
  • Black Rock Observatory: A tourist office/welcome center for the rest of the universe.
  • The Wayward Rock: An interactive, space-based adventure where it’s up to you to save the world! Participants will learn about asteroids through extraterrestrial imaging data, discuss their solutions with like-minded students, and build a physical prototype of their own brilliant ideas if they have access to a local makerspace or fab lab.
  • Cosmosium: Browser game built to inspire and educate the general population using asteroid data from NASA.
  • Light Sight: An open-source system for the fabrication of extremely low cost parabolic mirrors for the use in amateur telescopes.
  • Central Spark: Software that simplifies, automates, and speeds up submission of astronomical sightings and discoveries to central object databases, social media feeds, and “Internet of Things” cloud services.
  • DIY Space Exploration: Create engaging content that will inspire the general public to support and participate in space exploration.
  • Curiosity Hacked Space Badges: Earn badges by exploring space-related and space technology concepts and skills.

“The dinosaurs never had their own space program, nor a maker movement — and look where it got them,” said Alex Cureton-Griffiths of SpaceGAMBIT. “Defending the Earth is a big job, and makers are stepping up to the plate to help humanity take that one giant leap and survive as species.”

NASA is counting on Maker communities to be a part of the solution to asteroid threats. In addition to the 10 new projects with SpaceGAMBIT, NASA is offering a variety of other opportunities for Makers around the country to connect directly with NASA. This includes events like the World Maker Faire and opportunities to solve tough problems through NASA Solve — a program of challenges, prize competitions, and crowdsourcing activities.

Through NASA’s asteroid initiative, the agency seeks to enhance its ongoing work in the identification and characterization of near-Earth objects for further scientific investigation. This work includes locating potentially hazardous asteroids and identifying those viable for redirection to a stable lunar orbit for future exploration by astronauts. The Asteroid Grand Challenge, one part of the asteroid initiative, expands the agency’s efforts beyond traditional boundaries and encourages partnerships and collaboration with a variety of organizations.

For more detail about the 10 projects associated with the Asteroid Grand Challenge, visit:

For more information on the Asteroid Grand Challenge, visit:


Sarah Ramsey
Headquarters, Washington