Everyone wants of piece
of gamers! After bringing scientists closer to curing AIDS, we have more good news: two new planet candidates have
been discovered thanks to gamers playing a browser-based game using the Kepler
public archive data.
Planet Hunters is
an online collection of public-release NASA Kepler data. You're presented with
sample data representing stars likely to be orbited by a planet; the job is
then to search the Kepler data repository for stars which match this pattern.
At the distance covered by the Kepler Mission, planets are too small to make
out visually – scientists have to monitor the light levels of stars for signs
of interference. Spotting these telltale patterns is something computers are
rubbish at, and exactly the sort of thing humans do well – which bodes well for
our escape plans when the planet's overrun by hostile machines whose only flaw
is their subpar grasp of astronomy.
“In the first month after
launch,” says the Planet Hunters crew, “users identified two new planet
candidates which survived our checks for false-positives.” In other words,
nobody's in a position to point a telescope up at the Bowser Nebula just yet,
but the still-fledgling project has already got leads on two potential planets
to add to the data. “The involvement of citizen scientists as part of Planet
Hunters is therefore shown to be a valuable and reliable tool in exoplanet
detection,” says the report. Those
aren’t bad results from just a month of work and play.
Sep 28, 2011
Source: Planet Hunters report via Gamasutra