NASA also issued a request for information (RFI) for ideas on locating, redirecting, and exploring asteroids

NASA is looking for brilliant minds to figure out how to locate dangerous asteroids and eliminate any potential harm they may cause. 

NASA announced the Asteroid Grand Challenge today, which is asking anyone -- from government agencies to companies to citizen scientists -- to come up with a way to locate ominous asteroids headed our way and protect the planet from destruction.

"NASA already is working to find asteroids that might be a threat to our planet, and while we have found 95 percent of the large asteroids near the Earth's orbit, we need to find all those that might be a threat to Earth," said Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator. "This Grand Challenge is focused on detecting and characterizing asteroids and learning how to deal with potential threats. We will also harness public engagement, open innovation and citizen science to help solve this global problem." 

NASA also issued a request for information (RFI) for ideas on locating, redirecting, and exploring asteroids.

The White House said it is on board with the Grand Challenge.

NASA's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal talks about catching near-Earth asteroids robotically and sending them to orbit in the Earth-moon system. That way, astronauts can safely travel to the asteroids and explore them.

According to this initiative, it will use both current and developing technology to move large, hazardous asteroids away from Earth and capture the smaller ones for exploration. Some of the current technology that will be used includes the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.

Back in March of this year, NASA told Congress to "pray" if a meteor similar to the one that hit Russia back in February is ever three weeks away from the U.S. During that House Committee hearing, NASA administrator Charles Bolden Jr. told Congress that the U.S. doesn't have the proper equipment to identify a small meteor (the size of Russia's meteor).

"If it's coming in three weeks ... pray," Bolden said. "The reason I can't do anything in the next three weeks is because for decades we have put it off. We are where we are today because, you know, you all told us to do something and between the administration and the Congress, the funding to do that did not - the bottom line is always the funding did not come."

Now it looks like the U.S. is taking asteroids seriously, and will use the Grand Challenge to find solutions. 

Source: NASA

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