By teaching computers to track asteroids, UW scientists may save the Earth

Andrew Connolly, left, director of DIRAC, a new institute for intensive survey astrophysics at the University of Washington, and Zeljko Ivezic, a professor of astronomy and a key player in the development of software for the LSST telescope in Chile, stand in the planetarium at the UW. They’re involved in a major project to create a map of all the asteroids in our solar system, and to figure out which ones might pose a danger to Earth. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Andrew Connolly and Zeljko Ivezic, two UW Astronomy professors, were recently featured in a Seattle Times article. See excerpt below, and read more here at the Seattle Times article by Katherine Long.

Scientists at the University of Washington are writing computer algorithms that could one day save the world — and that’s no exaggeration.

Working away in the university’s quiet Physics/Astronomy building, these scientists are teaching computers how to sift through massive amounts of data to identify asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

Together with 60 colleagues at six other universities, the 20 UW scientists are part of a massive new data project to catalog space itself, using the largest digital camera ever made.