January 8, 2011

Expanding the Zooniverse

Sometimes it’s nice to know that computers can’t do everything.  Apparently they aren’t very good at crater recognition – the software is about where face recognition used to be.

The LRO. Photo from NASA

But what computers can do  -store reams of data – has helped NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissnce Orbiter (LRO) take millions of photos of the moon’s surface; the problem is that there simply aren’t enough technicians to analyze them all.  So we – the rest of the planet’s population – have been asked to help.

It’s called the Citizens Science Alliance and it sponsors a fabulous website called Zooniverse.  So far, Zooites – of which there are 380,000 – have helped identify a million and a half craters, but there are lots more to find.

Computerized image from the Milky Way Project. Photo from NASA

Or, if you prefer, you can help the Kepler Mission find new planets, the Hubble identify galaxies, keep track of solar storms or – my choice – transcribe historic weather data.  There are other projects and even more in the pipeline.

All you have to do is sign up to become an official citizen scientist and participate.  There are basic tutorials for every project – no need to be an astronomer, just a careful obsesrver.

The CSA, which started the project three years ago, is an Anglo-American venture of the National Maritime Museum (UK), Oxford University, University of Nottingham, the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the University of Minnesota and Johns Hopkins University.

It really is just about the coolest thing ever – you might even get some cosmic object named for you.



  1. ha that is very cool indeed!! 😀


    Comment by Nina C — January 8, 2011 @ 1:01 am | Reply

  2. YES YES YES very cool indeed can’t wait to find my own astroid good story


    Comment by avery — January 8, 2011 @ 10:32 am | Reply

  3. GOSH!!!!!!


    Comment by GALYA TARMU — January 8, 2011 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  4. cool


    Comment by james — January 10, 2011 @ 5:28 am | Reply

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