Have you got time on your hands and a computer sitting idly at home? Would you like to help astronomers better understand the universe?
Below you will find a list of citizen science projects that call on the public’s help to do research. Whether it’s recognising patterns or using your computer’s processing power while you’re not using it, you’ll be helping astronomers make sense of what’s out there. Take a look!
Einstein@Home uses your computer’s idle time to search for weak signals from spinning neutron stars (often called pulsars) using data from the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors, the giant Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, and the Fermi gamma-ray satellite. By joining, your are helping research find more pulsars! Pulsars are extremely interesting objects that radio telescopes like the SKA can use to observe gravitational waves. The more pulsars we know of, the better we’ll be at this!
Help astronomers locate and identify supermassive black holes and star-forming galaxies using one of the SKA pathfinder telescopes! The LOFAR survey has made images of hundreds of thousands of black hole jets and galaxies, which have been identified by an automatic “source finder” computer program. Unfortunately, this program is not perfect and sometimes splits a single source into separate components. Radio astronomers need your help associating the components that the program mistakenly separated to complete the survey!
The NASA-sponsored Radio JOVE project is a hands-on inquiry-based educational project that allows students, teachers and the general public to learn about radio astronomy by building your own radio telescope from an inexpensive kit to observe Jupiter, the Sun and even our own galaxy and/or using remote radio telescopes through the internet.
Help scientists identify gravitational waves produced by merging black holes! Being the most sensitive and most complicated gravitational experiment ever created, LIGO is susceptible to a great deal of instrumental and environmental sources of noise called glitches. These glitches are difficult to model using computers, can mimic true astrophysical signals, and generally make LIGO less sensitive to gravitational waves. By selecting the right classification for a given glitch, you are helping computers learn to do this classification themselves on much larger datasets, which helps scientists determine and eliminate the sources of noise.
RAD@home [India only]
Real Astronomy Discovery at Home is a citizen science project aimed at undergraduate science students in India to work on understanding black hole-galaxy co-evolution, using mainly data from GMRT, one of the SKA pathfinder telescopes. The project aims to prove that any BE/BSc undergraduate/graduate can do multi-wavelength extragalactic astronomy research. It is the first Indian citizen-science research programme in astronomy.
The Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. More than a million people around the world have come together to assist professional researchers and enable research that would not be possible, or practical, otherwise. You’ll find many citizen science projects available to help astronomers, from looking for asteroids, new exoplanets, tracking solar storms, studying mars and detecting stellar explosions. Take a look!
Become an AstroQuester and help astronomers to learn more about how galaxies grow and evolve! You’ll examine images from space telescopes, and your feedback will allow researchers to improve the computer algorithms that they use to analyse astronomical data. They can even use your answers to train new machine learning algorithms to become better and faster. Machine learning is a vital tool in modern astronomy to deal with the masses of data collected by cutting-edge telescopes, including the SKA!
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