Gamers help NASA discover 2 new planets
Not too long ago, we saw gamers help scientists come a step closer to curing AIDS. Now, gamers are at it again, giving science a leg up. Players of the browser-based game Planet Hunters have helped NASA discover two possible new planets outside our solar system.
NASA's Kepler space telescope has been taking images of a group of over 150,000 stars near the Cygnus constellation- and it's been doing so every thirty seconds since it's launch in 2009. I'm certainly not about to calculate how many images that is- but it's too much data for NASA's research team to sort through on their own. That's where Planet Hunters' 40,000 registered users come in. They're helping NASA sift through those images, with the hopes of discovering new planets that will possibly be habitable.
In the game, players locate new planets by monitoring the change in a star's brightness over time. With four million sessions of Planet Hunters in the books, the players have apparently found 69 possible new planets; no doubt hugely narrowing down the number which the NASA team will examine more closely.
As for the two confirmed planets? Well, the players who made those discoveries has been named in the acknowledgements section of a report published in Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society. How awesome would that be to say you discovered a planet? SUPER DUPER EFFING AWESOME.