Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Becoming An Ice Hunter

Just last week, I was praising and encouraging people to participate with the ambitious citizen scientist project, the Zooniverse. Now, if looking for exoplanets, identifying galaxies, examining the surface of the Moon, watching for solar storms, and studying the structure of our Milky Way Galaxy all sound boring to you (and really it shouldn't), then be prepared for their latest project: Ice Hunters.


Ice Hunters will have members of the public contribute in modern space exploration unlike any other way before. You can examine images from the giant Magellan and Subaru telescopes looking for Kuiper Belt Objects, or KBOs. These Pluto-like objects are lumps of ice, frozen chunks that exist on the fringes of our Solar System and may take millennia to circle the Sun once. Astronomers have already identified over a thousand KBOs, and there are likely tens of thousands left to be discovered.

Now, if discovering new objects in our own Solar System wasn't cool enough, you will help choose the next destination or two for a spacecraft to visit. The New Horizons probe is set to buzz past Pluto in July 2015, giving us an unprecedented view of the ice dwarf. Astronomers and researchers are on the edge of their seats for this encounter and are expecting to be amazed. But after New Horizons sails past Pluto, it is going to keep heading deeper into the outer solar system, deep into the Kuiper Belt, the territory of KBOs.

New Horizons has been given the capability to explore further objects than Pluto, and will be visiting one or two of them. With Ice Hunters, the KBOs found by the public will be considered as possible targets. KBOs have never been seen up close before, so your discovery may be one of the first of these objects ever studied up close and personal. Your discovery could lead to a bunch of new understanding about how our Solar System works, and maybe even an indication of how water was brought to the Earth.

It's an exciting prospect, especially for members of the general public. The site makes it just as easy as the other Zooniverse projects. Humans turn out to be really good at identifying these objects, were as computers tend to get confused by false positives in the data. You can read more about how it works here. That is why they need you. They need your eyes and your intelligence, there is far more data available than their are researchers.

Check out Ice Hunters and New Horizons maybe visiting your discovery soon!


24 comments:

-E- said...

this is pretty cool.

kgp318 said...

Wow, I went to the link and this is awesome. How interesting :)

Zombie said...

ice ice baby!

Simon black said...

Sound awesome, id love to check it out if I got the opportunity.

MRanthrope said...

If more people participated in this stuff instead of watching reality shows, the world would be a better place.

A Beer for the Shower said...

Nice to know I can contribute something to science while sitting in my chair and being lazy. But it's for a good cause!

Lost.in.Idaho said...

Can we name what we discover??

Gifz said...

Very nice man

Aaron M. Gipson said...

I am signing up right now, my friend! And further, I'm going to mention this in my blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. This is incredibly exciting, I worked with the SETI@home program for a long time but this is a lot more hands-on.

Alyssa said...

That's cool! That's like being a research assistant anytime on the internet. Nice!

Major.Mack said...

thats neat. never seen that before...

JayPower said...

This is awesome, id love to participate ;D

Triper said...

I will try it.

The Angry Lurker said...

Exploring from the safety of your chair.

Solsby Kid said...

Thats so cool!

Banacek said...

I like this idea. It makes me feel important.

BigMike said...

Crowd sourcing at its best...Thanks for the links mate ;)

LasseEA said...

Ice is no good against my heat ;)

Jay said...

the next frontier!

-Tombside said...

Next thing you know, there will be Ice Pirates...

Atley said...

teams of space men to find snow cones on the moon? sounds like fun! haha.

Internet Catch Of The Day said...

I will contribute to this!

M Pax said...

Oh cool! I'm really looking forward to a look at the Kuiper Belt ... after Pluto and Charon.

Necroticism said...

I hear you man! people get excited for ghosts or shit like that, when they should get excited about the mysteries of the universe. I'm checking their website, I'd love to help.

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