About the Asteroid Grand Challenge Series

Welcome to the Asteroid Grand Challenge Series sponsored by the NASA Tournament Lab. The Asteroid Grand Challenge Series is comprised of a number of topcoder Challenges that aim to get the world involved in finding asteroid threats to human populations.

Overview of the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge

On June 18, 2013, NASA announced the Asteroid Grand Challenge “to find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them.” Recognizing the power of traditional and innovative collaboration – including the use of public private partnerships, citizen science, crowdsourcing, and incentive prizes, in addition to international and other cooperative partnerships – NASA seeks to accelerate the effort in solving this global problem, together.

Since 1998, NASA’s Near-Earth Observation Search Program has been leading the search for potentially hazardous asteroids and is responsible for 98% of the discoveries to date. The NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office was established at JPL to coordinate NASA-sponsored efforts to detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that could approach the Earth.

This series sponsored by the NASA Tournament Lab is the first crowd sourcing activity for the Grand Challenge to actively engage new participants to help with the search for potentially hazardous asteroids.

To find out more about NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge please visit the NASA Asteroid Initiative webpage.

Project Personnel

Jason Crusan
Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division, NASA

As Director for the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division with the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Jason Crusan is the senior executive, manager, principle advisor and advocate on technology and innovation approaches leading to new flight and system capabilities for human exploration. He serves as the AES Senior Manager, leading the 500-600 Civil Servants with an active portfolio of 20-30 engineering and design projects. He leads integration with the Space Technology Mission Directorate and the other HEOMD programs such as the International Space Station and the Exploration System Division Programs. Crusan holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics, a Master’s in Computer Information Systems, and is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in Engineering Management at George Washington University. Mr. Crusan is married and has two children.

Jason Kessler
Asteroid Grand Challenge Program Executive
Office of the Chief Technologist, NASA

Jason Kessler, NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge Program Executive, began his professional career at NASA back in 1994. After graduating with a degree in Chemistry, Jason earned a position in NASA’s Legislative office and spent the following six years in various positions at NASA, culminating with the position of Deputy Chief of Staff to the NASA Administrator. Jason’s entrepreneurial spirit eventually led him back to school, earning his MBA. Several businesses later, Jason returned to NASA to join the SERVIR program office combining his private and public sector experience into one venture bringing decision-support information for climate change adaptation to those in the developing world. As the Asteroid Grand Challenge PE, Jason is working to use open innovation to help accelerate NASA’s existing efforts to “find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them.”.

Jenn Gustetic
Prizes and Challenges Program Executive, NASA

Ms. Gustetic’s experience has focused on the public sector with concentrations on prizes and challenges, open government, innovation, public private partnerships, grants management, and technology policy. Currently, Ms. Gustetic is the Prizes and Challenges Program Executive in the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. In this leadership and strategy role, Ms. Gustetic coordinates the use of challenge-driven open innovation methods, such as prize competitions and crowdsourcing, at NASA. Ms. Gustetic also leads NASA’s formulation efforts for its Grand Challenges, most recently resulting in the announcement in June 2013 of a new Grand Challenge to “find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them”. She holds a bachelors degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in technology policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lindley Johnson
Program Executive for Near Earth Object Programs, NASA

Lindley Johnson is assigned to NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate, Planetary
Science Division, as the Program Executive for the Near Earth Object Programs. Prior to NASA he served 23 years of Air Force active duty, obtained the rank of lieutenant colonel while working on a variety of national security space systems. After joining NASA, he was the Program Executive for NASA’s Deep Impact mission to comet Tempel 1, launched in January 2005 to deliver an impact probe to the comet’s surface on July 4, 2005, and explore the composition and interior structure of short-period comets. NASA’s NEO Observations program has discovered over 8,000 near-Earth asteroids and comets since Lindley became its manager, about 80% of the total known. Lindley has received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for his work on comet and asteroid missions. Asteroid 5905 (1989 CJ1) is named “Johnson” to recognize Lindley’s efforts in detecting Near Earth Objects.