The Asteroid Hackathon has the twin goals of creating awareness and encouraging engagement with the “citizen scientist” community around asteroid data challenges and opportunities.
Asteroids represent a real threat to humankind, and organizations like the Minor Planet Center (MPC), NASA, Pan-STARRS, Catalina Sky Survey, and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) are doing a great job of gathering and parsing data (observational/positional and characterization) in order to keep us all safe. That said, there is a dearth of engagement from the non-scientific, non-professional astronomy community, the “citizen scientists”, if you will. There is considerable opportunity in empowering citizen scientists and amateur astronomers to access and manipulate MPC’s asteroid dataset to find new insight into data patterns, generate additional observations and characterization, and ask questions that we don’t otherwise know to ask presently. However, one of the greatest obstacles today is making the asteroid data approachable and compelling: both from a technical/backend point of view, as well as a user experience (UX) perspective. Thus we present the Asteroid Hackathon.
The hackathon we propose involves recruiting idea submissions from (maximum 3-person) teams with a mix of User Experience (UX), software engineering and astronomy/science backgrounds, and letting them explore their proposals in a traditional hackathon format. We will spread awareness and participation in the Asteroid Hackathon through our existing technical communities, PR partners, and social platforms. Winners will be adjudicated by a panel of trusted industry experts, and winners will receive a monetary prize, as well as in-kind support from the broader “asteroid hacker” community.