ASU, NASA involve citizens in space exploration

Expert and Citizens Assessment of Science and Technology, an ASU-run group, will be taking part in NASA’s Asteroid Initiative, which aims to capture and redirect an asteroid into orbit around the moon so humans can explore it. ECAST’s group will allow ordinary citizens to get involved in space exploration and have their voices heard.

NASA along with ECAST are working to launch two in-person forums at the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at ASU. There will also be forums at the Museum of Science in Boston and online at SciStarter.com.

Each in-person forum will consist of 100 demographically diverse citizens from both locations. The online forum will have representatives from all geographies.

CSPO Associate Director Mahmud Farooque said in an email the ECAST meetings will have three themes, which include asteroid detection, planetary defense/asteroid redirection approaches, and human exploration strategy.

“Participants selected will receive balanced and scientifically based information ahead of the forums,” said Farooque. “On the day of the forum, there will be introductory videos, interaction with experts, (and) deliberation in groups leading to voting and narrative responses to specific questions of interest to NASA.”

The online forum will reflect the exact same information, but it will be able to offer additional engagement opportunities such as virtual discussions and responses.

This program will help NASA engage the public in American science policies.

“By learning and working in small groups the deliberations, everyday citizens will learn about the Asteroid Initiative, think in-depth about some of the many decisions and trade-offs involved and provide diverse, informed, well-thought-out viewpoints that ECAST will share with NASA and the public,” Farooque said.

Health science sophomore Ashley Tutwiler said she is excited about the initiative.

“I think that this is an absolutely incredible idea,” Tutwiler said. “There is so much about space that people and the public don’t know or understand, that should be known.”

Marketing major Richard Schorr-Coben said he’s eager for the opportunities it will give ASU students who are majoring in related fields.

“I think its wonderful, because we have a lot of people who are very creative and motivated students here studying within that field, and I think it will really benefit them to be able to have NASA give them a real world view of the occupation and how they can apply their knowledge,” Schorr-Coben said.

The citizen forums will be held Nov. 8 in Phoenix and Nov. 15 in Boston. ECAST will select participants from the pool of people that apply online. Participants must be 18 and older.

Reach the reporter at eaharri4@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @lissabissa09