The Planet Hunters

Be a citizen scientist!


Planet Hunters, the latest project from the Zooniverse, is a citizen science project and in a collaboration between Yale University.

The Participants help the Planet Hunter team sieve through data taken by the NASA Kepler space mission. Because the mission was funded with taxpayer dollars, NASA is committed to making the data available to the public. These data consist of brightness measurements, or "light curves," taken every thirty minutes for more than 150,000 stars. Users search for possible transit events - a brief dip in brightness that occurs when a planet passes in front of the star - with the goal of discovering a planet (hence the name "Planet Hunters"). The most difficult detections for Planet Hunters and for computer-based searches will be those from planets that orbit far from their star and therefore cross the star infrequently. It may also be difficult for computer algorithms to detect planets in data that has artificial offsets (which can occur with telescope pointing errors or space craft rolls). Planet Hunter participants may be better than computers at finding signals in this type of data. Because of the outstanding pattern recognition of the human brain, the team hopes that participants will also establish new "families" or classifications for the light curves. They will be standing by to obtain more data at telescopes to better understand the underlying physical reason for the different classifications. See the current list of likely planet candidates here.

The tutorial begins here.




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Gap Year

Taking a gap year is becoming more common in the United States, and can be even more common for students who graduate from high school earlier than expected.

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