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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

  • Marine Animal Identification Network (MAIN) Biology

    Marine Animal Identification Network (MAIN)



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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA Cloud Lab

    NOVA Cloud Lab

    Try your hand at classifying clouds and investigating the role they play in severe tropical storms

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA Energy Lab Energy & Sustainability

    NOVA Energy Lab

    Help design energy systems that meet demand and save the greatest amount of carbon emissions for the least amount of money

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • SENSR Technology

    SENSR

    A tool to create, share and manage a citizen science project running on mobile devices to harness the power of citizen scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sunyoung Kim, PhD Candidate 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
  • Zooniverse: Worm Watch Lab More Science

    Zooniverse: Worm Watch Lab

    One little worm can help scientists understand big genetic mysteries

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various 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
  • Ventus Project Energy & Sustainability

    Ventus Project

    Help researchers locate and count all the carbon dioxide at the world's power plants

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Gurney, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Digital Fishers More Science

    Digital Fishers

    Looking for a few hundred thousand citizen scientists to help analyze 15-second deep-sea videos

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rod Dobell, Senior Research Associate DATES: Ongoing
  • Precipitation Identification Near the Ground (PING) More Science

    Precipitation Identification Near the Ground (PING)

    Help NOAA researchers better understand determine what kind of precipitation—such as snow, soft hail, hard hail or rain—is falling and where

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • FrogWatch Canada More Science

    FrogWatch Canada

    Help Canadian herpetologists understand (and hopefully correct) declining frog populations in their country

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Hummingbirds @ Home More Science

    Hummingbirds @ Home

    Track, report and follow the spring hummingbird migration to better understand how climate change is impacting hummingbirds

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gary Langham, VP and Chief Scientist DATES: Friday, March 22, 2013 - Saturday, June 15, 2013
  • SubseaObservers More Science

    SubseaObservers

    Help assess the health and abundance of the mid-Atlantic scallop fishery

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Art Trembanis, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Snowtweets More Science

    Snowtweets

    Tweet data about snow depths in your area

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Richard Kelly, Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Management DATES: Ongoing
  • IceWatch USA More Science

    IceWatch USA

    Help researchers study how seasonal differences in the ice cover of lakes, rivers and other areas impact ecosystems

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Melinda Hughes-Wert and James Wert DATES: Ongoing
  • RinkWatch More Science

    RinkWatch

    Climate science and sports collide as researchers track outdoor skating days for signs of environmental change

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Colin Robertson, Assistant Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey More Science

    Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey

    Hunters can help the N.Y. State Department of Conservation keep tabs on important game birds

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Joe Martens, Commissioner DATES: Ongoing
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