AstroTalk Episode October 20, 2016

Citizen Scientist

3:02pm - 3:28pm

Citizen scientist are helping NASA big time. New formations on Mars, known as "SPIDERS", are receiving the once-over from 10,000 citizen scientists. 10,000 citizen scientists, or citizen volunteers, are pouring over data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to help identify the spiders. The spiders are long cracks or lines on the surface of Mars caused by CO2 gas, which escapes from under the surface of Mars, when slabs of sub-surface ice melts, producing the CO2 ice. NASA could not hope to do the work that the 10,000 citizen scientists do, so NASA is obviously very thankful to have this volunteer workforce aid it in its work.

Work done by citizen scientists is also aiding NASA scientists doing work on Jupiter. NASA has released images from the JUNO mission with its JunoCam public outreach camera on the JunoCam website JunoCam apparently has a small operations team, but no image processing team, so the public is being invited to process the image data into final image products. JunoCam is the first outreach camera to venture beyond the asteroid belt. So says Candy Hansen, JunoCam imaging scientist from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. “All sorts of people are coming to the JunoCam site and providing their own aesthetic. We have volunteers from all over the world, and they are doing beautiful work. So far all our expectations for JunoCam have not only been met but are being exceeded, and we’re just getting started.”

There are other citizen scientist ventures ongoing, and probably the most important one from Vancouver was the marvelous work done by Michelle Kunimoto of UBC. Michelle identified 4 new planets from data from NASA, so congratulations again Michelle.

2 links for citizen scientist participation are: and