NASA and the White House are calling for the public's help in identifying space debris that could one day collide with our planet. As the Washington Post reports, the search for asteroids will form part of a series of "Grand Challenges" run by the government and prove "we’re smarter than the dinosaurs,” according to NASA's deputy administrator, Lori Garver.
NASA is yet to find an asteroid that meets its requirements
With outside assistance, NASA hopes it can find a target rock for its Asteroid Redirect Mission. The agency wants to identify a large asteroid located relatively close to Earth, deploy a robotic craft with an inflatable grabbing mechanism, and place it in a safe orbit around the moon. Once there, NASA intends to send astronauts to visit it by 2025. It has already set a budget of $105 million that will be divided up among this mission and other "identification and general mitigation strategies for asteroids."
NASA scientists have been studying potential asteroids for a number of years but have yet to find one that meets their requirements. With public-private companies working alongside it, NASA could speed up discoveries of smaller asteroids, expanding its choice of potential candidates. NASA will host a livestream 9:30AM ET (6:30AM PT) discussing the progress being made on the mission and you can watch it right here.
Update: In a press conference, NASA provided more details about the program, which will solicit responses from private companies or research agencies by July 18th. In September NASA will finalize the plan for the asteroid evaluation mission and collect final comments from participants.