NASA has launched a new outreach project to enlist the help of amateur astronomers to help discover and track asteroids.
Specifcally, NASA wants amateur astronomers to help study the characteristics of asteroids with orbits that occasionally bring them close to Earth. NASA refers to these asteroids as near-Earth objects or NEOs.
The project "Target Asteroids!" began on April 18 and supports NASA's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission.
OSIRIS-Rex is scheduled for launch in 2016 and will study material from an asteroid.
Professional astronomers will use information such as position, motion, rotation and changes on NEOs gathered by amateurs to refine theoretical models and understanding of asteroids.
OSIRIS-Rex is set to encounter as asteroid in 2019.