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Brief Published: 7 Dec 2011

Planet Hunters


Gamification is rife, but Planet Hunters is a different animal. The browser-based online platform asks participants to help astrologers find evidence of new planets outside our Solar system.

Users sift through data transmitted by Nasa’s Kepler Space Telescope searching for a brief dip in brightness levels (the moment when a planet passes one of more than 150,000 stars) in the hope of finding a new planet.

The brainchild of American astronomer Debra Fischer, Planet Hunters is a collaboration between the Exoplanets programme at Yale University in the US, and citizen science project, Zooniverse.

Successful hunters will be named in the planet’s official discovery paper, and the initiative has already helped to uncover two potential planets. Fischer says: "It's only right that this data has been pushed back into the public domain, not just as scientifically digested results, but in a form where the public can actively participate in the hunt."

Planet Hunters