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Moon NASA Space Science

Citizen Scientists Help Explore the Moon 60

Pickens writes "NPR reports that NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is doing such a good job photographing every bit of the moon's surface that scientists can't keep up, so Oxford astrophysicist Chris Lintott is asking amateur astronomers to help review, measure, and classify tens of thousands of moon photos streaming to Earth using the website Moon Zoo, where anyone can log on, get trained, and become a space explorer. 'We ask people to count the craters that they can see ... and that tells us all sorts of things about the history and the age of that bit of surface,' says Lintott. Volunteers are also asked to identify boulders, measure the craters, and generally classify what is found in the images. If one person does the classification — even if they're an expert — then anything odd or interesting can be blamed on them. But with multiple independent classifications, the team can statistically calculate the confidence in the classification. That's a large part of the power of Moon Zoo. Lintott adds the British and American scientists heading up the LRO project have been randomly checking the amateur research being sent in and find it as good as you would get from an expert. 'There are a whole host of scientists ... who are waiting for these results, who've already committed to using them in their own research.'"
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Citizen Scientists Help Explore the Moon

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  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [giarc.a.kram]> on Monday May 24, 2010 @10:37PM (#32331576)

    Maybe they learned this from the distributed computing folks? SETI@Home and World Community Grid take advantage of the same process.

  • Re:Crazy idea.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @11:37PM (#32331904)
    You might want to check out some of those pictures before jumping in with speculations.
    Craters are being lit from various dirns, depending on the latitude, longitude and Sun position. This sort of imagery needs a human mind to correctly process it. Furthermore, it's not only about "counting craters", but identifying other interesting features (such as crater bouldery, artificial structures, linear features, moulds and so on). Plus, images have varying degrees of clearness (I found some corrupt images as well, pity you can't report them). The "Boulder Wars" minigame itself is rather interesting too.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.