California Institute of Technology | 2018 Jan 11
Caltech staff scientist Jessie Christiansen is a founder of a citizen-scientist project called Exoplanet Explorers
In its search for exoplanets—planets outside of our solar system—NASA's Kepler telescope trails behind Earth, measuring the brightness of stars that may potentially host planets. The instrument identifies potential planets around other stars by looking for dips in the brightness of the stars that occur when planets cross in front of, or transit, them. Typically, computer programs flag the stars with these brightness dips, then astronomers look at each one and decide whether or not they truly could host a planet candidate.
Over the three years of the K2 mission, 287,309 stars have been observed, and tens of thousands more roll in every few months. So how do astronomers sift through all that data?
Enter the Exoplanet Explorers citizen scientist project, developed by UC Santa Cruz astronomer Ian Crossfield and Caltech staff scientist Jessie Christiansen. Exoplanet Explorers is hosted on Zooniverse, an online platform for crowdsourcing research. ...
The K2-138 System: A Near-Resonant Chain of Five Sub-Neptune Planets Discovered by Citizen Scientists - Jessie L. Christiansen et al