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NASA Space Science

Join a Worldwide Planet Search 54

An anonymous reader writes "Astronomers have been looking for alien worlds for more than 15 years, and now you too can join the search. The Planet Hunters project is the latest citizen-science campaign organized by the crew at Zooniverse. Hundreds of thousands of computer users are already helping Zooniverse classify galaxies through Galaxy Zoo, and analyze lunar craters through Moon Zoo. This new project aims to recruit users to check data gathered by NASA's Kepler mission, which is expected to detect hundreds of Earthlike planets in a region of the constellation Cygnus. Kepler's science team detects planets by looking for the slight dimming in a star's light that's caused when a planetary disk passing over. By making precise measurements of that periodic dimming, astronomers can figure out how big the planet is, then follow up with other types of observations to confirm its existence and estimate its mass. More than 500 planets have been detected beyond our solar system, and Kepler is just getting started."
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Join a Worldwide Planet Search

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  • Cumbersome interface (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @06:20PM (#34602666) Journal
    I tried to help out and gave up after the first data set due to the poor user interface.

    The basic idea of the project is to identify spikes in the dataset. To do that you, click on a plus sign to indicate you've found a spike, drag on a box that appears in mid screen to wherever your spike is and then try to position the box on the spike. I don't know why, but dragging was slightly laggy and so you feel somewhat like a drunk trying to place the box where you want it. Spent more time trying to position the boxes than it took to id spikes.

    Once you've positioned the box, if you want to narrow or widen the box, you're stuck with a Macintosh window resize mechanism that only lets you adjust from the lower right. Resizing the window moves the dot you've just positioned which puts you back in drunken sailor drag mode.

    A simpler interface would just track where you click and place the boxes accordingly along with a 'keep the center dot in place whilst adjusting the box boundaries from any edge" resize mechanism. Maybe that'l be in Planet Hunter V2.0 .

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