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5cad643e-09e9-4c3f-b1be-205e244b4f67:487121: Citizen scientists: Target an asteroid!
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Direct link Citizen scientists: Target an asteroid!

24 Apr 2012, 19:37 UTC Last week, NASA announced a new outreach program that I’m sure some of you citizen scientists will want to take part in: Target Asteroids! The space agency is asking amateur astronomers to study various near-Earth objects (NEOs) from an initial list of some 74 that are at least 656 feet (200 meters) in diameter. The catalog will grow because observers are sure to discover more asteroids. [caption image="http://cs.astronomy.com/asycs/cfs-filesystemfile.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Blogs.Components.WeblogFiles/astronomy.Spacecraft/1588.OSIRIS_2D00_Rex_5F00_300.jpg" targeturl="http://cs.astronomy.com/asycs/cfs-filesystemfile.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Blogs.Components.WeblogFiles/astronomy.Spacecraft/7532.OSIRIS_2D00_Rex.jpg"]OSIRIS-Rex will visit the asteroid 1999 RQ36 and return back to Earth at least 2.11 ounces (60 grams) of the near-Earth object’s (NEO) surface material. Mission scientists are asking amateur astronomers to observe other NEOs in the program Target Asteroids! to complement the spacecraft’s data. // Illustration by NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona[/caption]Why? Target Asteroids! will support NASA’s robotic sample-return mission, OSIRIS-Rex, scheduled to launch in 2016. The ground-based observations will complement the mission data as scientists attempt to learn more about NEOs and find candidates for future asteroid missions. The results also could provide new insights into the formation and evolution of our solar system, the risk of asteroid impacts, and how life came to be on Earth. This is an opportunity for you to participate in some serious science. NASA is looking ...

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