Play Games, Discover Planets for NASA or Fauna for Russia

  • NASA is looking for volunteers.
  • Denmark used volunteers that helped Danish scientists understand quantum processes.
  • The Russian project of civil science "Flora of Russia", in which volunteers all over the country photograph wild vascular plants, marking their place of growth.

This week, NASA announced the creation of the Planet Patrol Website. The purpose of the website to aid scientists in the research of the new exoplanets in the data of the TESS space telescope. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is a space telescope for NASA’s Explorers program, designed to search for exoplanets using the transit method in an area 400 times larger than that covered by the Kepler mission.

Planet Patrol Logo and Main Page.

This not the first time a nation enlisted volunteers for help. Denmark used volunteers that helped Danish scientists understand quantum processes. The project was successful.

Russia has similar projects as well. The Association of Communications in the Field of Education and Science (AXON) launched the portal “People of Science”.  This is the first Russian-language platform for scientific volunteer projects that unites scientists and volunteers who want to work together on scientific projects.

The term “scientific volunteering” citizen science refers to any participation of non-professionals in science. Since the beginning of the 21st century, tens of millions of people around the world have been involved in the movement:

  • Discovering dead stars
  • Participating in quantum entanglement experiments
  • Studying the behavior of chimpanzees
  • Monitoring air quality
  • Mapping the distribution of plants and animals
  • Sorting ancient manuscripts
  • Playing video games for the benefit of science

Experts estimate the economic effect of such work in billions of dollars and euros, because this is not only time spent usefully, but also the “free” resources of millions of PCs. While the machine is not used by a person, it makes calculations for the benefit of science.

In America, Australia, and the European Union, international, state, and non-profit organizations support and develop scientific volunteerism. In Russia, there are separate scientific areas and research that traditionally invite non-professionals.

Volunteers work in nature reserves and go on archaeological expeditions. They are actively attracted by ornithologist for the protection of birds at ornithological stations.

The largest Russian project of civil science “Flora of Russia”, in which volunteers all over the country photograph wild vascular plants, marking their place of growth. More than 700,000 priceless observations were made.

The home page of the Russian Flora Project portal.

There is a new project that opened on October 1, 2020. Russia unveiled a new web portal for citizen-science.  It is the first platform in Russia for an average citizen to choose a scientific project to participate. Scientists would be publishing the need for volunteers and the type of projects they need to enlist volunteers.

Russia does not have large volunteer communities. Hence, it is a step in the right direction. Volunteers are very important on the global scale. There are lot of scientific discoveries taking place where they could benefit the program.

Both USA and Russia are focusing on space and future colonies on the Moon. Volunteers could aid in many spheres of the future plans. It would be interesting to see the program involvement in the near future.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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