Online Slooh Observatory Snags $30K Telescope Grant to Hunt Asteroids

Slooh Recieved Grant for New Telescope
Slooh has received a grant for $30,000 for an asteroid-hunting telescope. (Image credit: Slooh)

The parent company of a group that provides free telescope views over the Internet has received a Connecticut government grant of $30,000 to buy a new telescope.

The new telescope for the online Slooh Community Observatory will be used for asteroid research. The telescope, whose size and parameters were not disclosed in a press release, will form part of a network of observatories that are expected to help NASA choose candidate asteroids for a manned mission. The agency intends to send astronauts to a space rock towed into orbit around the moon.

Slooh and NASA plan to train citizen astronomers to do follow-up observations of asteroids found by professional astronomers, to learn more about the rocks' rotation and size (which is needed to figure out the asteroids' orbits).

The telescope can also be used to search for and characterize asteroids that could pose a hazard to Earth. Of the 10,957 near-Earth asteroids found so far, about 13 percent (1,472 asteroids) are possibly hazardous.

In all, Slooh plans to add 10 telescopes to the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands to participate in the asteroid campaign.

"We're proud to be providing the essential resources that Slooh needs to expand their unique program to mobilize people around the world to monitor asteroids that may threaten our planet," Elliot Ginsberg, the president and CEO of the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc., where Slooh is based, said in a statement.

Slooh observactory representatives said that there is much work to be done in looking for asteroids, as many near-Earth rocks likely remain undiscovered. Astronomers estimate that 90 percent of 0.6 mile-across (1 kilometer) asteroids near Earth have been found, but only 30 percent of 459-foot (140 meters) asteroids and 1 percent of 98-foot (30-meter) rocks.

Funds came from Connecticut's department of economic and community development.

"This grant supports Slooh's model of collaborative consumption," stated Michael Paolucci, founder and CEO of Slooh. "By enabling people to share powerful telescopes situated at world-class observatories, we have built the easiest and most affordable way to train and engage citizen astronomers in performing real science. Absolutely anyone can learn to do this."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: