Image: Courtesy of Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies/SSEC, UW-Madison

SatCam is an app for iOS devices where citizen scientists collect observations of cloud and surface conditions coordinated with an overpass of a polar orbiting satellite. SatCam—which supports the Terra, Aqua and Suomi NPP satellites—can be set up to notify the user 10 minutes prior to a satellite passing overhead.

After downloading the app, you can make a manual observation (and take a picture of the sky) or set your device down and let SatCam take the picture automatically. SatCam will submit the image to a server at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC). This helps researchers there check the quality of the cloud images they create from the satellite data. In return, the researchers send you the satellite image that was captured at your location, anywhere in the world.

Project Details

  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies/SSEC, UW-Madison
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Download the SatCam app from iTunes and register with SSEC.

See more projects in FreeFieldworkAll Ages.

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.

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