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.
Citizen scientists can help notify researchers when orcas are in the Salish Sea, a network of coastal waterways located between the southwestern tip of Canada's British Columbia and the northwestern tip of Washington State.
The Salish Sea Hydrophone Network is looking for volunteers to help monitor the critical habitat of endangered Pacific Northwest killer whales by detecting orca sounds and measuring ambient noise levels. Volunteers are especially needed to help notify researchers when orcas are in the Salish Sea, which encompasses the waters of Puget Sound and the surrounding area.
Sponsored by a coalition of organizations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Whale Museum in Olympia, Wash., the network consists of five hydrophones, microphones used underwater for recording or listening to underwater sounds. Each hydrophone is hooked up to a computer to analyze the signal and stream it via the Internet.
Even though software is used to distinguish animal from other underwater sound, human ears do a better job. So volunteers monitor the network from their home computers anywhere in the world, and alert the rest of the network when they hear whale sounds. Sometimes boats or onshore monitors are deployed to observe the whales while they are making sounds. Researchers hope to learn more about the uses of orca communications and whale migration patterns.
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is a project of international collaboration between ESA and NASA to study the Sun from its deep core to the outer corona and the solar wind. SOHO is the most successful comet discoverer in history, having found more than one thousand eight-hundred comets in more than thirteen years of operation. The majority of these comets have been found by amateur astronomers and enthusiasts from all over the world, scouring the images for a likely comet candidate from the comfort of their own home.
To participate in SOHO Comet Hunting, citizen scientists need an Internet connection, photo-editing software and an understanding of what SOHO comets look like. For help with the last item in that list, a guide is available online. Citizen scientists need the ability to display gif images and find the pixel value of any given point in the images. If you don't have the software, you can use the java tool on the LASCO javagifs page to measure positions. Latest images and movies are also available from the LASCO site.
If you think your object is a comet, measure its positions, read the instructions on how to use the report form, and report your object.
New Jersey Audubon (NJA) is recruiting volunteers for shorebird surveys. Participants must have some prior experience in shorebird identification and be willing to commit three days a month in August, September and October to conducting bird surveys.
These ongoing shorebird surveys, initiated in 2004, have provided current information on migration stopover sites along New Jersey’s Atlantic coast for Red Knots, American Oystercatchers and other shorebirds. These data are raising awareness among state and federal agencies in New Jersey about the cumulative importance of many smaller stopovers and the growing impact from human disturbance. Citizen Science surveys are having a significant positive effect on the conservation of migrant shorebird habitats in New Jersey.
Shorebird citizen scientists are needed for the New Jersey Meadowlands and coastal sites, especially ones in Cape May and Atlantic Counties. Shorebird volunteers are required to survey their site every 10 days (and at least 5 days apart) during southbound (fall) migration: July 15th to October 31st. Training in identification and count methodology will be provided by NJ Audubon during two workshops in late July, one in the NJ Meadowlands (tentatively scheduled for July 23rd) and one in South Jersey (tentatively the week of July 18).
This project is a collaborative effort of New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS), New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife/Endangered and Nongame Species Program, and Manomet Center for Conservation Science, aimed at assessing status and changes in populations of shorebirds to better manage and conserve stopover areas. The data collected by volunteers will be incorporated into the national database of the Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (PRISM), whose overall goal is to monitor trends in shorebird populations. In addition, the information will help identify areas important to southbound shorebirds, and define shorebird management goals for New Jersey.
Deadline: Jun 29 2013
Reward: $7,000 USD
The Seeker for this Challenge desires proposals for chemical methods that could rapidly degrade a dilute aqueous solution
Deadline: Jul 15 2013
Reward: $5,000 USD
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