NASA Needs Help Analyzing Photos of Jupiter

If you’ve been meaning to update your resumé, there’s an opportunity for you to add “worked on a NASA project.” Or even more intriguingly, “Jovian Vortex Hunter.” That’s because NASA is looking for citizen scientists (that’s you!) for its project to analyze photos of clouds on Jupiter. The Juno spacecraft has made over 40 flyovers of the planet and accumulated more than 60,000 Jupiter images. Too many for NASA scientists to get through on their own.

They need volunteers to identify vortices (spiraling clouds that look like hurricanes) and then to determine if those storms are swirling clockwise or counter-clockwise. 927 people have signed up so far and the project is 41% done. To join and contribute to this important research, check out the website for more details and training. 

We learned about the project from DesignTAXI. It’s only one of many citizen science studies run by NASA. Others include cloud-spotting on Mars and looking for tails on asteroids. There are also plenty here on Earth, like cloud identification and tracking snow levels or landslides via photos. Basically, if you’re into clouds, NASA needs your help!

There’s also tons of other citizen science projects you can join around the world, like using the app iNaturalist to track spider populations or joining the World Wildlife Fund’s walrus census.  

The planet Jupiter with detailed clouds

There have been many revelations about Jupiter since Juno arrived in 2016 with its state of the art capabilities for taking measurements and photographs. Including that the planet likely formed by gobbling up tiny planets, more details about the “great red spot,” and that the ammonia clouds host superbolts of lightning. It also detected an FM radio signal coming from Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. What will we learn next, and will you be part of that discovery?

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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