Amateur and professional scientists can now study and contribute to various parts of NASA’s massive data collection by participating in the Citizen Scientists program. There are various ways anyone can help with this research.
Be A Martian
Citizen scientists can take part in research tasks and assist science teams in their study of Mars. There is a huge amount of map data of Mars that needs to be stitched together, annotated, and improved. Students can even help develop sites and plans for future Martian colonies.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is looking for help in deciding where to take its next picture with its HiRISE camera. Citizen scientists can go to the site and vote on their favorite Martian site from a pre-selected list or suggest their own.
Meteoroids are striking the moon’s dark side all the time. NASA is unable to monitor all of these meteoroids, and this program is designed to empower citizen scientists to analyze the data and track the rates and sizes of the larger meteoroids. This helps NASA design protective equipment for when humans return to the moon.
MY NASA DATA
This is a program for students, teachers, and other citizen scientists to analyze the data NASA collects about the Earth from space. It is designed to foster growth in the disciplines of scientific inquiry and mathematics.
Night Sky Network
This is a network of astronomy clubs to help teachers, students, and amateur astronomers find each other and work together.
NASA makes a number of technology tools available to citizen scientists. The JPL Ephemeris Generator can be used to calculate the orbits of many solar system objects. They also maintain a list of asteroids and comets and their orbital data, as well as a tool that lists the objects (and another for the optically observable ones) in a portion of the sky at a specific time. You can also find new objects in photographic data at the SkyMorph page.
NASA has a Solar System Simulator (which uses computer modeling to stitch images together from the frame of reference of any object at any point in time), a Space Calendar (which covers over 1,300 space-related activities), and Spacecraft Sighting Opportunities (which helps you identify artificial objects in Earth’s orbit).
You can also suggest new programs or features for NASA Science’s Citizen Scientist program. If you’re already participating in this program, let us know what you think of the experience.