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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

  • 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

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul Higgins DATES: Ongoing
  • SatCam Technology

    SatCam

    Capture observations of sky and ground conditions at the same time that an Earth observation satellite is overhead

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Liam Gumley DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Project Star Date M83 More Science

    Zooniverse: Project Star Date M83

    Study Hubble telescope images to help identify the ages of the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy’s (M83) many star clusters.

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Loss of the Night Space

    Loss of the Night

    Help researchers measure light pollution and better understand its impact on the environment

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Franz Hölker DATES: Ongoing
  • Dark Sky Meter Space

    Dark Sky Meter

    Measure the night sky (and light pollution) via an iOS app, and contribute your readings to a global map

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA Sun Lab Space

    NOVA Sun Lab

    Help scientists predict solar storms

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Aurorasaurus Space

    Aurorasaurus

    The goal of Aurorasaurus is to collect observations of the aurora borealis and synthesize them into predictions of what the aurora is or will soon be doing

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Elizabeth MacDonald DATES: Ongoing
  • Space Warps [Zooniverse] Space

    Space Warps [Zooniverse]

    Help spot rare gravitational lenses in the distant universe

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Arfon Smith, Director of Citizen Science DATES: Ongoing
  • Citizens in Space Space

    Citizens in Space

    Citizen scientists are invited to submit experiments that may be flown into space on board commercial flights

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Edward Wright, Chairman DATES: Ongoing
  • Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI) Space

    Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI)

    Amateur astronomers can work on research projects with Lowell Observatory researchers

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Bruce Koehn DATES: Ongoing
  • Transit of Venus Space

    Transit of Venus

    The Venus transit offers a chance for modern-day stargazers to repeat the experiments conducted by expeditions around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries--with a modern twist

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Steven van Roode DATES: Ongoing
  • Solar-Storm Watch Space

    Solar-Storm Watch

    Help solar scientists spot explosions on the sun and track them across space to Earth

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Chris Davis, Project Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Meteor Counter Space

    Meteor Counter

    Mobile app lets citizen scientists keep track of meteoroids

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Bill Cooke DATES: Ongoing
  • SOHO Comet Hunting Space

    SOHO Comet Hunting

    Discover new comets by analyzing images taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Karl Battams DATES: Ongoing
  • Morphology Analysis Project for Participatory Exploration and Research (MAPPER) Space

    Morphology Analysis Project for Participatory Exploration and Research (MAPPER)

    Help NASA find life on Mars by exploring the lakes of British Columbia

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Margarita Marinova DATES: Ongoing
  • Citizen Sky Space

    Citizen Sky

    Help scientists solve the mystery of epsilon Aurigae, a mysterious, bright, eclipsing binary variable star that has baffled scientists since 1821

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Arne Henden, Project Principal Investigator DATES: Ongoing
  • Stardust@Home Space

    Stardust@Home

    Help find the first pristine interstellar dust particles ever brought to Earth

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Bryan Mendez, Space Science Education and Public Outreach Specialist DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Planet Hunters Space

    Zooniverse: Planet Hunters

    Use data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft to find undiscovered planets outside our solar system

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Debra Fischer DATES: Ongoing
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