Category Archives: Space participation

Results of a citizen scientist survey

A survey of  people participating in the Galaxy Zoo project provides a profile of the average citizen scientist  : What Makes Citizen Scientists Tick? – MIT Technology Review

The results are curious. Unsurprisingly, Galaxy Zoo volunteers are overwhelmingly male with 82.1per cent being men. There is also a particular over-abundance in the 50-60 age group. Overall, the volunteers have an average age of 43 and over 60 per cent come from the US and UK.

What is mildly surprising is their motivation for taking part. The survey asked volunteers to give their primary reason and this turned out not to be things like enjoying looking at pretty pictures of galaxies or the fun of it all. Instead, more than 40 per cent of volunteers say that the desire to contribute to science is their primary motivation.

Update on the Chelyabinsk fireball

The NY Times reports on what has been learned about the Chelyabinsk meteor, and the meteoroid that created it, in studies since the event: In Asteroid’s Aftermath, a Sigh of Relief : A Clearer View of the Space Bullet That Grazed Russia –

The report includes a video report on the event and on how non-professionals have participated in helping to refine the estimate of the orbit of the meteoroid.

Data from infrasound detectors around the world has helped in estimating the energy released in the fireball

the Canadian team has calculated that the energy released in the Chelyabinsk explosion was the equivalent of about 440 kilotons of TNT, or about 30 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb.

That calculation was made with the help of data from a network of acoustic sensors set up to monitor compliance with the treaty to ban nuclear weapons testing. There are about 45 of the sensors worldwide, detecting so-called infrasound at frequencies well below the range of human hearing.

Uwingu contest for naming closest known exoplanet

Uwingu is sponsoring a contest to suggest a name for the nearest exoplanet found so far:  A public name for ‘Bb’: Opening the naming of the closest planet to our solar system to the people of Earth! – Uwingu

Astronomers have discovered evidence for thousands of planets orbiting distant stars. But all of these planets have only technical names, such as ’Alpha Centauri Bb,’ not memorable ones like the planets in our own solar system.

Uwingu is announcing a contest for the people of Earth to name the closest known exoplanet (planet around another star)!

Anyone can nominate a name—or as many names as you like. The name with the highest number of votes for it on April 15th will be announced as the winner! And what’s more, we’ll be giving out a series of prizes to the namers (that’s you!) of any name that gets at least 100 votes, names that get 1,000 votes, names that get 10,000 votes, and the top vote getter of all.

During the competition you’ll need to work your magic to encourage votes from your social networks, blog followers, friends, family, employers…everyone! And its for a great cause—Uwingu is creating The Uwingu Fund to accelerate space research and education, and we’re already making grants.

Get Started!


More about the program and the plan to send some of the money raised to support NASA outreach projects:

Operation Moonwatch – volunteers monitored early satellites

Here are interesting historical accounts of a nationwide program in the US started in the 1950s to organize amateur astronomers in the tracking of satellites:

Find more about modern tracking of spacecraft in the HobbySpace Satellite Observing section.