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Asteroid Zoo’ Enlists Citizen Scientists for Online Hunt

A citizen-science project called Asteroid Zoo wants you to join an online asteroid hunt, but this adventure is nothing like the classic "Asteroids" arcade game. Instead, players look closely at images collected by the Catalina Sky Survey and identify actual real-life asteroids. (A tutorial shows you how to go hunting.) The project is presented by Zooniverse, the creators of more than two dozen other citizen-science projects; and Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining company that promised to support Asteroid Zoo during its $1.5 million Kickstarter campaign. The results will help experts train computers to conduct better automated searches for near-Earth asteroids that might pose future hazards — or present future opportunities. "With Asteroid Zoo, we hope to extend the effort to discover asteroids beyond astronomers and harness the wisdom of crowds to provide a real benefit to Earth," Chris Lewicki, Planetary Resources' president and chief engineer, said in a news release.

NASA asks for funding to hunt asteroids 2:18

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— Alan Boyle, NBC News