If you want to work at NASA, this is your chance. Well, don’t expect a salary or any benefits, but the agency is looking for volunteers to help process the massive amount of exoplanet data using them. Watching an exoplanet a program. If you have a telescope, you can even contribute data to the project. But if your telescope is in the back locker, you can process the data they’ve collected over the years.
You might think the only way to contribute with a telescope is to have a small observatory in your backyard, but that’s not the case. According to NASA, even the 6-inch telescope can detect hundreds of transiting exoplanets using their software. You may not be paid, but program policy requires that the first paper using work done by program volunteers receive a co-author’s credit on the paper. Not too shabby!
The observations include measuring dips in the brightness of stars caused by known exoplanet transits. This allows the planet’s orbit to be calculated more accurately, which can help other scientists who want to monitor the planet later. This can save valuable time on larger instruments by tasking the telescope with the exact time the exoplanet will pass by.
We find it paradoxical that it was not so long ago that science generally rejected the possibility of discovering and observing exoplanets. There are now over 5,000 of them known to be in existence. That’s 1,000 a year for Enterprise’s five-year mission.
“Amateur organizer. Wannabe beer evangelist. General web fan. Certified internet ninja. Avid reader.”