Website of the week 24th Oct 2012

Join the search for planets from your home.

Planethunters.org is a project that uses technology to shift information around but depends on good old-fashioned eyeballs and brains to do the work. Planethunters uses information gathered by the Kepler telescope and the human ability to recognize subtle patterns (or interruptions to patterns) to detect planets.

When a planet passes in front of a star it creates a dip in the light seen from that star and it is these dips in light when detected that could lead to the discovery of a new planet. When this change in light output is recorded, it is stored in a database and compared with other observations and may lead to the discovery of yet another planet in deep space.

What makes the planethunters project so different is that instead of programming a single cluster of computers to do the job using special software, the task of analyzing is handed over to thousands of people that can work on many stars at once. There is still a computer system trying to do the same thing but this is considered a bit of a race between the two methods.

If you want to do your bit and help discover new planets, head over to planethunters.org sign up and get searching.