WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- NASA says it is instituting a "Grand Challenge," with the goal of finding all asteroid threats to human populations and deciding what to do about them.
Complementing the recently announced mission to redirect an asteroid and send humans to study it, the initiative will use multidisciplinary collaborations and a variety of partnerships with other government agencies, international partners, industry, academia and citizen scientists, the space agency reported Tuesday.
"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," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said. "This Grand Challenge is focused on detecting and characterizing asteroids and learning how to deal with potential threats."
Grand Challenges, ambitious goals on a national or global scale demanding advances in innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology, are a key element of President Barack Obama's Strategy for American Innovation.
"I applaud NASA for issuing this Grand Challenge because finding asteroid threats, and having a plan for dealing with them, needs to be an all-hands-on-deck effort," said Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.