Month: September 2011

Citizen Scientists Discover Two Exoplanets

The Planet Hunters team from Zooniverse — which includes citizen scientist volunteers from all over the world — has submitted their first journal paper for peer review and possible publication announcing two confirmed planets outside our familiar solar system.

Using public light curve data generated from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, a mass of citizen scientists sortedNASA's Kepler Field of View through and visually evaluated a mountain of data points identifying possible signals of planets crossing the paths of stars in a tiny corner of the Universe. The ten best candidates from the first batch of data was submitted to other ground-based telescopes for further observations. Two of the ten candidates have been re-observed and confirmed by the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, which firmly demonstrates the true power of how citizen scientists can be involved in serious scientific advancement.

The two identified exoplanets are both much larger than Earth with diameters of about 21,000 miles and 64,000 miles across (our small Earth is only about 8,000 miles wide), and have very tight orbits around their stars at about 10 days and 50 days, respectively. The light curve data for these two stars, SPH 10125117 and SPH 10100751, may be viewed through the Planet Hunters interface, and you may try out your own analysis to find the tell-tale signature of planets passing through the observational plane of its host star.

The complete paper submitted by Planet Hunters may be read online through the arXiv.org database or downloaded directly as a PDF document: Planet Hunters: The First Two Planet Candidates Identified by the Public using the Kepler Public Archive Data.

You may also learn more about the Planet Hunters program and a more detailed review of planet hunting techniques from Dynamic Patterns Research. Please let us know if you have been participating in the Planet Hunting program, or if you have any questions about getting involved now. The importance of discovering planets outside our solar system will certainly prove to be critical to our great++ grandchildren and we, as active citizen scientists, can be a valuable resource toward making these scientific efforts more cost effective, efficient, and accurate.

Design Your Own Zooniverse Project

The extreme popularity and continuing scientific success of Galaxy Zoo and the subsequent explosion of the many Zooniverse projects have brought useful and important scientific research to the masses of interested citizens from around the world. Dynamic Patterns Research continues to support these awesome efforts, and is currently actively involved in the Planet Hunters program. Zooniverse has been adding new projects at an impressive rate–there are ten live projects now–and they apparently have no plans to slow down. In fact, they are now looking outward to the very group of people who processes their masses of data to brainstorm the next big citizen science project to be developed.

Citizen Science Alliance

Hosted through the Citizen Science Alliance and with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Adler Planetarium, Zooniverse has announced an open call for proposals for future scientific projects that would benefit from the collective, analytical efforts of hundreds of thousands of remote volunteers. The proposals would need to have a direct connection with a scientific or research group, but the ideas should also be able to flow from citizen scientists themselves.

The next selection round of ideas will occur in January 2012, so plan on completing your submission in December 2011. If you are not familiar with the great Zooniverse projects, take some time to directly experience how powerful they are and the potential that the platform can have for so many other serious scientific questions that can only be successfully answered with the critical help from citizen scientists around the world.

Begin Your Submission

Last updated April 5, 2020