This App Lets Anyone Hunt Asteroids

Blowing them up is someone else's job

Asteroids
AsteroidsCourtesy NASA/Don Davis

Want to protect the planet from asteroid strikes? There's an app for that. In March, NASA and asteroid-mining company Planetary Resources released Asteroid Data Hunter. The free desktop application is the culmination of the Asteroid Data Hunter Challenge, in which participants vied to create the best algorithm for locating individual asteroids. Stargazers submit their telescope photos to the app for analysis, and software compares the snapshots with images of known asteroids. If the app discovers a new near-Earth object, it helps users report it to astronomers for future tracking.

This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title "Asteroid Data Hunter."