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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
  • The Smell Experience Project Health

    The Smell Experience Project

    Help researchers understand how and why a person’s sense of smell might change over time

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dolores Malaspina, MD, MSPH, Director of InSPIRES DATES: Ongoing
  • How Radioactive Is Our Ocean? Health

    How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?

    Help U.S. marine scientists monitor the spread of radiation across the Pacific Ocean from Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ken Buesseler, Senior Scientist 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
  • 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
  • Astro Drone Crowdsourcing Game Technology

    Astro Drone Crowdsourcing Game

    If you own a Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter, you can participate in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Astro Drone crowdsourcing game to help improve robot vision

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul K. Gerke, I.G. Sprinkhuizen-Kuyper, Guido C.H.E. de Croon DATES: Ongoing
  • Weddell Seal Population Count More Science

    Weddell Seal Population Count

    Help scientists in the field monitor the Weddell seal population in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jay Rotella, Robert Garrott and Don Siniff DATES: Ongoing
  • Flusurvey Health

    Flusurvey

    Feeling sick in the U.K. or Europe? At least it won’t interfere with your citizen science work

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Alma Adler & John Edmunds (UK) DATES: Ongoing
  • The Snowtweets Project More Science

    The Snowtweets Project

    Citizen scientists can help Canadian researchers map snow depths worldwide using Twitter

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Richard Kelly, Professor 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
  • Poo Power! More Science

    Poo Power!

    Fight back against dog poo discarded on the streets (and sidewalks)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Duncan Chew/Mia Cobb DATES: Ongoing
  • What's Invasive! More Science

    What's Invasive!

    Locate and identify invasive species to alert experts about the spread of habitat-destroying flora and fauna

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • NoiseTube Technology

    NoiseTube

    Participate in the collective noise mapping of your city or neighborhood

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ellie D'Hondt DATES: Ongoing
  • Kinsey Reporter More Science

    Kinsey Reporter

    Citizen observers report on sexual behavior and experiences as well as share, explore and visualize the accumulated data

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A 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
  • Spiders in Your World More Science

    Spiders in Your World

    Join the Explorit’s Community Science Project by finding and recording spiders in your home or neighborhood

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • AgeGuess Mind & Brain

    AgeGuess

    A citizen science project that lets you guess people's ages--without fear of offending them!

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Uli Steiner and Dusan Misevic DATES: Ongoing
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