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Sun Microsystems Space NASA Science

Scientists Need Volunteers To Look At the Sun 110

Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that Royal Observatory's 'Solar Stormwatch' needs volunteers to help scientists spot Sun storms — known as coronal mass ejections — before they cause damage on Earth. 'When you look up at the Sun obviously it's too bright to look at properly,' says Dr. Marek Kukula of the Royal Observatory, but 'with special instruments and telescopes you can see there's all sorts of stuff going on.' NASA already monitors the Sun using two 'STEREO' spacecraft that produce 3D images of earth's nearest star, which can show the trajectory of these explosions. However, the sheer amount of data means NASA's scientists are unable to analyze the data as closely as they need — which is where the world's Internet population comes in. After a brief tutorial, users get access to the actual 3-D images taken by the STEREO spacecraft. If a user believes they have spotted the beginnings of a solar storm, they can bring it to the attention of scientists. 'Every little bit counts,' says Kukula. 'I've spoken to the scientists involved and they all agree that even if you log-on and just do it for a few hours, get bored and never touch it again it's all really useful — and helps them to do their work.'"
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Scientists Need Volunteers To Look At the Sun

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  • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:13PM (#31457540) Journal

    I wonder, instead of having humans analyzing these things forever, could they use the interactions with humans to 'train' some sort of visual analysis algorithm so that it learns how to identify the 'interesting' images? Then, in the future, maybe a computer can alert Nasa scientists of particularly 'interesting' images for them to manually analyze, while no longer needing public 'screening' by humans?

  • by reginaldo ( 1412879 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:16PM (#31457600)
    "After a brief tutorial, users get access to the actual 3-D images taken by the STEREO spacecraft"

    Sweet! Do they send me complimentary solarstormwatch 3D viewing glasses, or do I need to use the ones I stole from Avatar?

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