Tag: Exoplanets

01
Oct
2020
Posted in website

Citizen Scientists Can Now Search For Exoplanets On This New Website

KEY POINTS

  • NASA has launched a new citizen science website called Planet Patrol
  • Through the website, citizen scientists can access TESS data 
  • Scientists say human eye is extremely good at spotting them

Ever dreamed of becoming an astronomer? NASA just launched a website where citizen scientists can help search for exoplanets.

NASA just launched a new website that would allow members of the public to work with astronomers in the search for exoplanets using data from NASA’s planet-hunting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). In a news release about the launch of Planet Patrol, NASA said volunteers can help in determining which signals are actual potential planets and which are just false alarms.

Using the website, the volunteers can scour through the TESS images and answer sets of questions for each potential planet candidates. This will help narrow down the list of candidates that are more likely to be planets.

“We’re all swimming through the same sea of data, just using different strokes,” citizen science officer Marc Kuchner of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate said in the news release. “Planet Hunters TESS asks volunteers to look at light curves, which are graphs of stars’ brightness over time. Planet Patrol asks them to look at the TESS image directly, although we plan to also include light curves for those images in the future.”

Undated illustration of NASA's TESS telescope launched in 2018 Undated illustration of NASA’s TESS telescope launched in 2018 Photo: NASA / Handout

This is an important part of the search because TESS is capable of collecting a massive amount of data, capturing thousands of possible planets in a year. Not all of these are actually planets, so it is important to narrow down the search to know which ones are best suited for follow-up studies. Otherwise, a significant amount of time could be spent on objects that