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What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

Projects

  • Lost at Night Space

    Lost at Night

    Help astrophysicists georeference the position of cities which appear in images taken from the International Space Station (ISS)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: José Gómez Castaño DATES: Ongoing
  • Marine Metre Squared More Science

    Marine Metre Squared

    New Zealand citizen scientists monitor the diversity living things found on beaches

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Asteroid Zoo Space

    Zooniverse: Asteroid Zoo

    Scientists scanning our solar system need your help to find asteroids for the exploration of their mineral properties

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Penguin Watch Evolution

    Zooniverse: Penguin Watch

    Join researchers in sorting through 200,000-plus penguin images to help improve efforts at penguin conservation

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Dear Professor Einstein Technology

    Dear Professor Einstein

    Transcribe letters written by members of Albert Einstein’s Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists following World War II

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Floating Forests More Science

    Zooniverse: Floating Forests

    Help scientists uncover the history of Giant Kelp forests around the globe

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • The Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET) More Science

    The Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET)

    Conduct year-round beached bird surveys in order to identify and record information about bird mortality along the eastern coast of the United States

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julie Ellis, Research Assistant Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA Cybersecurity Lab Technology

    NOVA Cybersecurity Lab

    Explore the world of coding, cyber scams and online safety

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • SharkFinder Evolution

    SharkFinder

    Help paleontologists generate a more complete picture of ancient ocean life

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Aaron Alford and Jason Osborne DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA RNA VirtuaLab Technology

    NOVA RNA VirtuaLab

    Find the patterns that dictate RNA design

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Adrien Treuille, Computer Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Wildlife Tracker Technology

    Wildlife Tracker

    Help scientists study the impacts of habitat fragmentation on wild animals by tagging photos taken by motion-detecting cameras

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Yiwei Wang, PhD candidate DATES: Ongoing
  • LifeScanner More Science

    LifeScanner

    Discover the diversity of living organisms around you and contribute to a global knowledge base on biological diversity

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sujeevan Ratnasingham, Director of Informatics DATES: Ongoing
  • New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project More Science

    New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project

    Help researchers learn about the biology and ecology of the second-largest living fish

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication and Health (BEACH) Program Health

    Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication and Health (BEACH) Program

    Help monitor the health of Washington State beaches

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Debby Sargeant, BEACH Program Manager DATES: Ongoing
  • Globe at Night 2014 Space

    Globe at Night 2014

    Citizen scientists observe and report evidence of light pollution

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Operation War Diary Technology

    Zooniverse: Operation War Diary

    Researchers need help transcribing regimental diaries describing events in the lives of British soldiers during the First World War

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Luke Smith, Digital Lead, First World War Centenary Program DATES: Ongoing
  • National Moth Week 2014 More Science

    National Moth Week 2014

    National Moth Week 2014 kicks off July 19 worldwide and offers dozens of opportunities for Citizen Scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: David Moskowitz and Liti Haramaty DATES: Saturday, July 19, 2014 - Sunday, July 27, 2014
  • iCoast: Did the Coast Change? More Science

    iCoast: Did the Coast Change?

    Help U.S. Geological Survey scientists study storm aftermaths and coastal changes

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sophia Liu DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Sunspotter Space

    Zooniverse: Sunspotter

    Help organize sunspot images in order of complexity to better understand and predict how the Sun's magnetic activity affects the Earth

    More »
    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul Higgins DATES: Ongoing
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