EVE Online: Project Discovery — Exoplanets

Advance the search for extraterrestrial life and our knowledge of the universe by helping scientists discover exoplanets from within the virtual world of EVE Online

Problem

Exoplanets are planets that orbit other stars and there are countless undiscovered ones in the universe.

This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the solar system. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image. Proxima b is a little more massive than the Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. (Image credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

Since the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1988, there has been just 1771 confirmed discoveries. There are all sorts of exoplanets among those discovered: some are full of water, some are made of diamonds and some are Earth-sized and within the “Goldilocks zone” (meaning it has the right conditions to contain liquid water). These discoveries have taken scientists several years of analyzing data from telescopes.

However, there are still years of data left to be studied.

Exoplanet discoveries by year, with detection method represented by color. Green = transit, blue = radial velocity, red = direct imaging, orange = gravitational lensing. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Aldaron)

Solution

In collaboration with the University of Geneva, EVE Online has launched a new mini-game called “Project Discovery — Exoplanets” where EVE players can help scientists discover exoplanets.

EVE players will use transit photometry to find these planets. Transit photometry is one of the most promising methods of finding exoplanets.

The findings will be monitored by a team of astronomers at Geneva University, led by Professor Michel Mayor, who will confirm whether or not the players have identified a new world.

Transit photometry involves measuring the light coming from a star and making use of the fact that a planet eclipsing the star will reduce the amount of light that we can observe. These measurements of light are presented as graphs, called light curves, and show the luminosity of a star. By finding places where the curve dips regularly, players can identify possible new worlds.

About EVE Online

EVE Online is a space-based, persistent world massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

About Project Discovery

This is not the first Project Discovery mini-game that EVE Online has launched. Last year, players helped expand the Human Protein Atlas by categorizing millions of proteins, which are in fact, more difficult to study than DNA. A month and a half of EVE players’ time amounted to 163 Swedish working years and almost eight million classifications.

How you can contribute

Join the EVE community by clicking here.

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