Results tagged “Citizen Science”

Want to be a citizen Earth scientist? All you need to contribute to NASA's studies of our home planet is a smartphone, access to the outdoors, and the new "GLOBE Observer" app.

Every morning at seven, Andrew Welch wakes up, cooks breakfast and checks the rain gauge sitting on a five-foot post in his backyard. He writes down the measurement, sends his kid off to school and then heads out to his workplace as a structural engineer.

Sometimes it takes a village to find new and unusual objects in space.

Long before the term "citizen science" was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time.

Home Computers Discover Gamma-Ray Pulsars

The combination of globally distributed computing power and innovative analysis methods proves to be a recipe for success in the search for new pulsars.

A University of Alberta physicist brought together backyard astronomers and professionals to confirm the mysterious behavior of two stars more than 300 light-years from Earth.

Citizen science programs are increasingly popular for a variety of reasons, from public education to new opportunities for data collection. The literature published in scientific journals resulting from these projects represents a particular perspective on the process. These articles often conclude with recommendations for increasing "success".

Amateur contributions to professional publications have increased exponentially over the last decades in the field of Planetary Astronomy. Here we review the different domains of the field in which collaborations between professional and amateur astronomers are effective and regularly lead to scientific publications.

"Citizen science, in which volunteers work with professional scientists to conduct research, is expanding due to large online datasets. To plan projects, it is important to understand volunteers' motivations for participating. This paper analyzes results from an online survey of nearly 11,000 volunteers in Galaxy Zoo, an astronomy citizen science project. Results show that volunteers' primary motivation is a desire to contribute to scientific research. We encourage other citizen science projects to study the motivations of their volunteers, to see whether and how these results may be generalized to inform the field of citizen science." More

"This article describes a citizen-science project conducted by the Spanish Virtual Observatory (SVO) to improve the orbits of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) using data from astronomical archives. The list of NEAs maintained at the Minor Planet Center (MPC) is checked daily to identify new objects or changes in the orbital parameters of already catalogued objects. Using NEODyS we compute the position and magnitude of these objects at the observing epochs of the 938 046 images comprising the Eigth Data Release of the Sloan Digitised Sky Survey (SDSS). If the object lies within the image boundaries and the magnitude is brighter than the limiting magnitude, then the associated image is visually inspected by the project's collaborators (the citizens) to confirm or discard the presence of the NEA. If confirmed, accurate coordinates and, sometimes, magnitudes are submitted to the MPC." More

"Welcome to Planet Four, a citizen science project designed to help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the surface of Mars . . . the likes of which don't exist on Earth. All of the images on this site depict the southern polar region, an area of Mars that we know little about, and the majority of which have never been seen by human eyes before! We need your help to find and mark 'fans' and 'blotches' on the Martian surface. Scientists believe that these features indicate wind direction and speed. By tracking 'fans' and 'blotches' over the course of several Martian years to see how they form, evolve, disappear and reform, we can help planetary scientists better understand Mars' climate. We also hope to find out if these features form in the same spot each year and also learn how they change." More

"We report the latest Planet Hunter results, including PH2 b, a Jupiter-size (R_PL = 10.12 \pm 0.56 R_E) planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a solar-type star. PH2 b was elevated from candidate status when a series of false positive tests yielded a 99.9% confidence level that transit events detected around the star KIC 12735740 had a planetary origin. Planet Hunter volunteers have also discovered 42 new planet candidates in the Kepler public archive data, of which 33 have at least three transits recorded. Most of these transit candidates have orbital periods longer than 100 days and 20 are potentially located in the habitable zones of their host stars. Nine candidates were detected with only two transit events and the prospective periods are longer than 400 days. The photometric models suggest that these objects have radii that range between Neptune to Jupiter. These detections nearly double the number of gas giant planet candidates orbiting at habitable zone distances. We conducted spectroscopic observations for nine of the brighter targets to improve the stellar parameters and we obtained adaptive optics imaging for four of the stars to search for blended background or foreground stars that could confuse our photometric modeling. We present an iterative analysis method to derive the stellar and planet properties and uncertainties by combining the available spectroscopic parameters, stellar evolution models, and transiting light curve parameters, weighted by the measurement errors. Planet Hunters is a citizen science project that crowd-sources the assessment of NASA Kepler light curves. The discovery of these 43 planet candidates demonstrates the success of citizen scientists at identifying planet candidates, even in longer period orbits with only two or three transit events." More

The Herschel Space Observatory Needs You

"Astronomers using Europe's Herschel Space Observatory are asking the public to help find holes in the dust clouds that are threaded through our galaxy. By looking at the images from Herschel, combined with those from NASA's Spitzer satellite, members of the public are invited to join the science effort by helping to distinguish between dense clumps of cold dust and holes in the dusty clouds that are threaded through our galaxy. Dust clouds don't come in simple shapes, and so the process of distinguishing between dark clouds and holes is incredibly difficult to do. Luckily, the ideal tool is at hand: the human eye. The problem proved more complex than the team had anticipated. "The problem is that clouds of interstellar dust don't come in handy easy-to-recognize shapes", Derek explained. "The images are too messy for computers to analyze, and there are too many for us to go through ourselves". This is where the Zooniverse comes in, with its community of citizen scientists poised ready to help out. The new images are part of the Milky Way Project, which launched 2 years ago and, through the efforts of over 40,000 volunteers, has already created astronomy's largest catalogue of star-forming bubbles, as well as a plethora of nearby star clusters, distant galaxies and more. The Milky Way Project volunteers are excellent at measuring and mapping our galaxy." More

"Astronomers at the University of Utah and elsewhere are seeking volunteers to explore the galaxy next door, Andromeda. The newly launched Andromeda Project will use people power to examine thousands of Hubble Space Telescope images of the galaxy to identify star clusters that hold clues to the evolution of galaxies. "We want to get people excited about participating. We're hoping for thousands of volunteers," says Anil Seth, an organizer of the Andromeda Project and an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Utah. "I love looking through these amazing Hubble Space Telescope images of Andromeda, the closest big spiral galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy," he adds. "The Andromeda Project will give lots of people the opportunity to share in that amazement." "Star clusters are groups of hundreds to millions of stars that formed from gas at the same time so all the stars have the same age," Seth says. A goal of the Andromeda Project "is to study the history of the galaxy, and these clusters play an important role." More

"The data presented in this paper are the result of the efforts of the Planet Hunters volunteers, without whom this work would not have been possible. Their contributions are individually ac- knowledged at We also acknowledge the following list of individuals who flagged one or more of the transit events on Talk discussed in this paper before or after discovery of the planet: Hans Martin Schwengeler, Dr. Johann Sejpka, and Arvin Joseff Tan." More

Citizen Scientists Reveal a Bubbly Milky Way

"A team of volunteers has pored over observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and discovered more than 5,000 "bubbles" in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy. Young, hot stars blow these bubbles into surrounding gas and dust, indicating areas of brand new star formation. Upwards of 35,000 "citizen scientists" sifted through the Spitzer infrared data as part of the online Milky Way Project to find these telltale bubbles. The volunteers have turned up 10 times as many bubbles as previous surveys so far."

Scientists study the 'galaxy zoo' using Google Maps and thousands of volunteers, FECYT

"More than two thirds of spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, display a central bar that can extend for thousands of light years. These colossal elongated structures are made up of collections of stars and dark matter which are held together by gravity. Now a team of researchers from Europe and the USA have measured the bar length of some 5000 galaxies with the help of amateur astronomers. The most precise results (those obtained for 3150 galaxies) have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal." Analyzing the vast amount of data that NASA brings back from its missions is an enormous task. In order to improve collaboration internally, as well as engage citizens in NASA's mission, the Open Government team is experimenting with different ways to process mission data quickly. The NASA OpenGov team has enlisted the help of established NASA partners Zooniverse and Vizzuality, who have pioneered the analysis of large datasets through crowdsourcing, using the power of elegant interfaces, to engage citizen scientists in the NEEMO mission.

Using a new platform which takes a square kilometer of ocean-bottom imagery and parses it out into an easily navigable, compelling user interface, we humbly ask you to help find scientifically relevant items, in order to allow us to outline them for a broad representation of the reef. Then, traverse planning scientists can then use this aggegated data to target, or confirm the interest items for further study. We can't do this kind of science on our own. We need your help today and again when we send humans beyond the surly bonds of Earth.

The spashdown of the crew on Thursday will also mark the official launch of our beta site at, part of the new Zooniverse Labs arena. Please keep in mind that we are still in beta for the site, and the site may be down periodically. If you find this to be the case, check out the NEEMO mission page for a while and come back soon!

More information on open.NASA at at Crowdsourcing Science at NEEMO-15

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