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SXSW Interactive 2014

Are We Smarter Than the Dinosaurs?

66 million years ago, the dinosaurs had a very, very bad day thanks to an asteroid at least 10 km wide. Since 1998, NASA has led the global effort to find potentially hazardous asteroids, and has successfully found 95 percent of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 1km within the last 15 years. But the work is not over, and it will take a global effort with innovative solutions through participatory engagement to complete the survey of smaller, but still potentially hazardous asteroids. NASA’s Grand Challenge to “find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them” will employ open innovation tactics “on steroids”. NASA has a rich history of using prizes and crowdsourcing to engage more than the usual suspects in solving hard problems. This session will explore how a “new NASA” and open innovation can meaningfully engage people in space, provide funding opportunities to developers, makers & entrepreneurs, and help us solve problems of global importance.

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  1. Why are asteroids so important? Do we care about them beyond the fact that they sometimes impact our planet?
  2. How can mass collaboration contribute meaningfully to science? Can non-experts really contribute to rocket science?
  3. What is the "new NASA"? Why is NASA turning to the public to help them with tough problems? Is this a new way of doing business in advanced technology development and scientific discovery?
  4. How have entrepreneurs been successfully engaged in NASA open innovation and prizes? Have any new companies started as a result of participating in these activities? Is crowdsourcing really fair for both the sponsor and participants or does it take advantage of "free work"?
  5. How can individuals at SXSWi contribute to the Grand Challenge and compete in NASA prizes? What are the opportunities for the developers, makers, investors, and technologists at SXSWi to get involved?


  • Jenn Gustetic, Prizes and Challenges Program Executive, NASA
  • Jason Kessler, Grand Challenges Program Executive, NASA


Jenn Gustetic, Prizes and Challenges Program Executive, NASA

Meta Information:

  • Tags: crowdsourcing, space
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: Science and Space Exploration
  • Level: Intermediate
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