Volunteers helped NASA find 15 rare active asteroids

Volunteers from the NASA-organized Active Asteroids project have discovered 15 previously unknown active asteroids. This finding will help astronomers better understand the evolution of the Solar System. 

Active asteroids identified by volunteers. Source: Colin Orion Chandler (University of Washington)

To date, astronomers have managed to discover over a million asteroids. Most of these bodies are concentrated in the Main Belt and are static objects that do not show any activity. But there are exceptions to this rule. Astronomers know asteroids that can acquire tails. It is believed that these are either degenerate comet nuclei that have preserved some remnants of volatile substances, or the consequences of collisions.

In 2021, with the support of NASA, the “Active Asteroids” Citizen Science project was initiated, the purpose of which was to search for active asteroids. Volunteers took part in it. They studied the images of the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) installed on the 4-meter Victor Blanco Telescope in Chile.

Recently, the project managers summed up its results. In total, 8,300 volunteers took part in it, who viewed 430,000 images from the Dark Energy Camera. They managed to discover 15 previously unknown active asteroids.

According to the researchers, studying active asteroids will allow them to learn about the formation and evolution of the Solar System, including the origin of water on Earth. In addition, these objects may help in space exploration in the future. Their ice could be used as breathing air and rocket fuel components.

According to https://science.nasa.gov

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