Searching for exoplanets is a priority for NASA. The US space agency indeed believes that these celestial bodies can help us find traces of extraterrestrial life. Several instruments are currently in space to detect the presence of these exoplanets in the vastness of the universe.
Despite their experience, researchers can miss these celestial bodies by studying the data recorded by these spacecraft. This is why NASA decided to set up a participatory science project called "Planet Patrol. »
As part of this initiative, the US space agency calls for volunteers to search for exoplanets from images recorded by the TESS satellite (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite).
"Planet Patrol" is presented by NASA as a project bringing together "a community pursuing a common goal of understanding the universe and our place in it.. This initiative was launched on 28 September 2020 on the Zooniverse platform.
"It was an extremely enriching and enjoyable experience for us and, let's hope so, for them ", the decree Veselin Kostov, researcher at NASA's Goddard Aerospace Center.
Anyone with an internet connection can contribute to this project. To help volunteers in their search, NASA has published a guide in which it explains to them the method to adopt to detect a real exoplanet.
NASA's call did not fall on deaf ears. According to Veselin Kostov, the Planet Patrol project succeeded in bringing together more than 1600 participants in just three days. The latter provided nearly 100 000 individual classifications on the Zooniverse platform.
Researchers believe the human eye is more reliable than the machine in finding exoplanets.
"The human eye is extremely good at spotting such impostors, and we need citizen scientists to help us distinguish between lookalikes and real planets ”, to Veselin Kostov.
According to them, automated systems can make mistakes. Veselin Kostov explained that eclipsing binary stars are the source of many "false positives" in the search for exoplanets.
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NASA, Exoplanet, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, Sky, Observation
World news – FR – NASA still needs you to find exoplanets that can support extraterrestrial life