Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

NASA taps citizen scientists to help study eclipse
by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Aug 17, 2017

An estimated 220 million people will watch Monday's eclipse. For a small percentage, the phenomenon will be more than a spectacle. It will be a chance to observe and record -- for science's sake.

Researchers at NASA are counting on the participation of thousands of citizen scientists to document next week's solar eclipse and to gather usable data for additional research.

Scientists want to find out how the brief disappearance of the sun will alter clouds, weather, plants, animals and more. The event -- and the data gathered before, during and after -- is expected to inspire studies by biologists, astrophysicists, sociologists, meteorologists and scientists from many other fields.

Those who download the GLOBE Observer Eclipse app, register, and procure a thermometer will be able to log geolocated air temperature readings during the eclipse. The app will also help participants document cloud type and cover before, during and after the event.

"One of the special features of the GLOBE Observer app is the ability to match cloud observations from the ground with satellite observations, which also provides interesting and valuable comparisons," Kristen Weaver, deputy coordinator for the GLOBE Observer program, told UPI.

Cloud and air temperature data collected using the app will be publicly available for students and researchers to use as they wish, but several NASA scientists will use the observations to better understand Earth's energy budget, the balance between the solar energy absorbed and reflected by Earth.

Some observations are likely to end up on YouTube before they find their way into prestigious science journals.

More than 1,000 DSLR camera users have volunteered to share their eclipse photographs with scientists working on the Eclipse Megamovie project. Organizers are still looking for more citizen photographers to sign up.

Megamovie scientists will stitch together images to form a high-definition movie -- a moving collage showcasing the eclipse as it was seen across the country.

Hugh Hudson, a research physicist at the University of California, Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, dreamed up the project.

"My colleague Scott McIntosh and I listened to a presentation on eclipse science by Shadia Habbal, and we kind of simultaneously whispered 'let's make a movie!' to each other," Hudson said of the moment the idea hit them.

"The movie idea originally was just for outreach, and it has been and will be a powerful tool, but we also -- being scientists -- have figured out very good and novel science to do this way," he added.

Those without a DSLR camera can participate using a smartphone. The Eclipse Megamovie Mobile app will walk users through the point and shoot process. Smartphone images of the eclipsed sun will be used to study how the corona changes over time.

One team of researchers is less interested in what the eclipse looks like and keener on learning what it sounds like.

The Eclipse Soundscapes project was inspired by a deaf librarian who asked organizer Henry "Trae" Winter what a solar eclipse was like. After he realized nothing he was telling her was registering, he asked one of his colleagues for help. Winter's colleague relayed a story of a quiet field becoming flooded, the sounds of chirping crickets, and the croaking of frogs as the moon passed in front of the sun.

Many eclipse viewers have experienced similar sonic transformations -- birds going quiet, others erupting in song, ants stopping in their tracks.

"Not all species have as strong a circadian clock as humans do," said Winter, a solar astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian CfA. "But these are just stories, these are just pieces of anecdotal evidence. We want to bring those stories into the scientific realm so we can test and measure them and see how much these soundscapes truly change."

Winter and his colleagues have recruited thousands of citizen scientists to record soundscapes before during and after the eclipse.

For some of the participants, this won't be the first recording session. It's a serious pursuit, requiring serious -- and expensive -- equipment, including microphones that cost thousands of dollars. But would-be acoustic scientists can send in soundscapes recorded on cassette tapes.

Winters and his colleagues want all the data they can get.

"We hope to have thousands of actual sound recordings of different locations and different species all over the country," he said.

Recordings from both inside and outside the path of totality -- the coast-to-coast, 70-mile-wide path in which the sun will be entirely blocked by the moon -- will allow scientists to determine how much of an eclipse is necessary to trigger "the dark-light, night-day confusion among crickets and frogs."

The recordings of citizens will be supplemented by the work of highly trained acoustic scientists.

"The National Park Service is helping us out with this. They have an amazing team of researchers," Winter said. "The Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division has teams working in 16 parks along the path of totality."

NPS scientists are focused on preserving and recording the sounds of wildlife, but Winter hopes some citizen scientists will capture the sounds of city life.

How will city streets sound as the daytime sky grows dark?

"I'm hoping some anthropologists and sociologists look at human interactions and responses and make comparisons between the two," he said.

While Winter has worked to organize related citizen science efforts, his main focus on the Eclipse Soundscapes project has been developing a way for blind and visually impaired people to experience the eclipse through sound and touch. Winter and his colleagues built an app that will offer real-time narrations of the phenomenon. The app also has a tactile component that the uses a smartphone's vibration feature to relay the movement of the moon across the sun's face.

Winter's commitment to accessibility extends to the project's citizen science components, too.

Almost of all the data collected through NASA's litany of citizen science programs will be made publicly available in the weeks following Monday's eclipse. But Winter and his colleagues are taking the extra steps to ensure their data will accessible to the visually impaired.

The blind and visually impaired use specific search techniques to navigate online sources and Internet databases.

"Adding lots of tags and metadata to your data is the best way to help them conduct efficient searches," Winter said. "Adding that rich metadata is one of the key features we're going to be doing and working on post-collection."

NASA's outreach and engagement efforts have the potential to inspire one of the largest citizen science efforts in history. And it could just be a precursor of what's to come.

"Really, this is kind of a dry run for the next eclipse, which will happen in 2024," Winter said.

Studying the sun's atmosphere with the total solar eclipse of 2017
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Aug 16, 2017
A total solar eclipse happens somewhere on Earth about once every 18 months. But because Earth's surface is mostly ocean, most eclipses are visible over land for only a short time, if at all. The total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, is different - its path stretches over land for nearly 90 minutes, giving scientists an unprecedented opportunity to make scientific measurements from the ground. ... read more

Related Links
Solar Science News at SpaceDaily

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

SpaceX launches super-computer to space station

NASA: let's say something to Voyager 1 on 40th anniversary of launch

Disruptioneering: Streamlining the Process of Scientific Discovery

NASA Offers Space Station as Catalyst for Discovery in Washington

SHIIVER tank arrives at NASA's Marshall Center for spray-on foam insulation

'Dragon captured' as cargo arrives at space station

SpaceX launches super-computer to space station

ISRO Develops Ship-Based Antenna System to Track Satellite Launches

For Moratorium on Sending Commands to Mars, Blame the Sun

Tributes to wetter times on Mars

Opportunity will spend three weeks at current location due to Solar Conjunction

Curiosity Mars Rover Begins Study of Ridge Destination

China's satellite sends unbreakable cipher from space

Xian Satellite Control Center resolves over 10 major satellite faults in 50 years

China develops sea launches to boost space commerce

Chinese satellite Zhongxing-9A enters preset orbit

Blue Sky Network Reaffirms Commitment to Brazilian Market

India to Launch Exclusive Satellite for Afghanistan

ASTROSCALE Raises a Total of $25 Million in Series C Led by Private Companies

LISA Pathfinder: bake, rattle and roll

Archinaut Project conducts first large-scale 3D build in space-like environment

Air Force tests new radar receivers for rescue helicopters

Lockheed Martin integrates first modernized A2100 satellite

Marine Corps testing mobile 3D printing lab

Tidally locked exoplanets may be more common than previously thought

A New Search for Extrasolar Planets from the Arecibo Observatory

Gulf of Mexico tube worm is one of the longest-living animals in the world

Molecular Outflow Launched Beyond Disk Around Young Star

New Horizons Video Soars over Pluto's Majestic Mountains and Icy Plains

Juno spots Jupiter's Great Red Spot

New evidence in support of the Planet Nine hypothesis

Scientists probe Neptune's depths to reveal secrets of icy planets

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement