NASA Seeks Citizen Science Help For Cloud Study

NASA Invites Public to Join #SkyScience Cloud Study

"NASA is inviting people around the globe to step outside during Earth Science Week, Oct. 12-18, observe the sky and share their observations as citizen scientists. NASA's #SkyScience activity is part of an annual educational event organized by the American Geosciences Institute to encourage the public to engage in Earth sciences. Citizen scientists can participate in this global Earth science data collection event by observing, photographing and reporting on clouds over their location as a NASA satellite passes over. Reports and photos will be compared to data collected by NASA Earth-observing instruments as a way to assess the satellite measurements."

International Space Apps Challenge

Join us for Space Apps 2015

"NASA and other space agencies around the world are preparing for the next International Space Apps Challenge. The International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration that takes place in cities around the world. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to advance space exploration missions and improve life on Earth. NASA is leading this global collaboration along with a number of additional government collaborators and local partner organizations."

Creating Digital Badges for NASA Education

Penn State to build digital education credentials for NASA, Penn State

"Penn State will be receiving a $500,000 subcontract from Texas State University, the recipient of a larger grant from NASA to provide professional development for teachers using NASA-related science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) content. Based on its success leading the NASA Aerospace Education Services Project, Penn State will contribute by building and developing a digital badge system."

Applying Citizen Science Tools to Astronomy

Citizen Scientists Probe Early Galaxies, Sky and Telescope

"Now, astronomers using data collected by Galaxy Zoo -- a crowd-sourced astronomy project that invites the public to analyze fuzzy images of distant galaxies -- are peering deeper into the universe in search of these barred galaxies. "Galaxy Zoo works because spotting features in galaxies is a task well suited to humans. We as a species are great at pattern recognition," says project astronomer Brooke Simmons (Oxford, U.K.). "And you don't need to be an astrophysicist to recognize a boxy shape inside a rounded disk."

Combining human and machine learning for morphological analysis of galaxy images, astro-ph.IM

"The increasing importance of digital sky surveys collecting many millions of galaxy images has reinforced the need for robust methods that can perform morphological analysis of large galaxy image databases. Citizen science initiatives such as Galaxy Zoo showed that large datasets of galaxy images can be analyzed effectively by non-scientist volunteers, but since databases generated by robotic telescopes grow much faster than the processing power of any group of citizen scientists, it is clear that computer analysis is required. Here we propose to use citizen science data for training machine learning systems, and show experimental results demonstrating that machine learning systems can be trained with citizen science data. Our findings show that the performance of machine learning depends on the quality of the data, which can be improved by using samples that have a high degree of agreement between the citizen scientists. The source code of the method is publicly available."

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Featured on VOA

Citizen-Scientists Take Control of Old Satellite, VOA

"For the first time, the American space agency has given control of one of its spacecraft to a team of citizen-scientists. The satellite was launched in 1978 and had not been active since 1997. But the citizen group has found a way to make it useful again. Space agency scientists have a name for the satellite. It is known as the International Sun Earth Explorer 3, or ISEE-3. ISEE-3 studied space weather beginning in the late 1970s. It also gathered information about particles flowing from the sun. These particles, also known as solar wind, can damage satellites and electrical systems and block radio signals."

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ISEE-3 is in Safe Mode

Figure 1: ISEE-3 Post Flyby Trajectory (Courtesy of Mike Loucks

Since the lunar flyby on August 10th the ISEE-3 Reboot team has continued to work with Google Creative Lab to bring to full fruition the website to provide real time data from ISEE-3. We have been working with the various dishes that have supported us until now, including Arecibo, Bochum, the SETI Institute, Morehead State and others. We now have a problem.

The ground stations listening to ISEE-3 have not been able to obtain a signal since Tuesday the 16th. Arecibo, Morehead, Bochum, SETI, as well as the Usuda 64 meter dish in Japan and the Algonquin 45 meter dish in Canada have all pointed at the spacecraft with no positive results. So, at this time we are assuming that the spacecraft has gone into safe mode.

What This Means

Safe mode on ISEE three can basically only occur from one problem, loss of power. Before the lunar flyby ISEE-3 orbited closer to the sun than the Earth. This resulted in a very good power profile for the spacecraft. However, as seen in the figure 1 here, since the flyby the spacecraft is traveling much farther away from the sun than it has been before:

We have not had many opportunities to get data from the spacecraft since the flyby as the antenna configuration has also been much worse from an attitude perspective. Also, we no longer have propellant to change the attitude of the spacecraft to improve this configuration. We can change the antenna pointing a bit but the first time we tried it, it did not work.

Next Steps

When ISEE-3 goes into safe mode it turns off all of the experiments and it turns off both transmitters and waits for help. Due to some uncertainty in the trajectory this may end up being a bit more of a problem than otherwise. We are working now to put together the commands to turn the transponders back on and obtain engineering telemetry. The last telemetry we have looked ok, but the spacecraft is still traveling farther away from the sun, and thus it is probable that last week the voltage on the power bus dropped enough to trigger the safe mode event. There is no functioning battery on the spacecraft now as it failed in 1981.

So, stay tuned for more information.

Dennis Wingo
ISEE-3 Project Co-Lead

Comparing Propulsion System Schematics

NASA Lists ISEE-3 Reboot as 2nd Largest Space Crowdfunded Effort

Emerging Space: The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight, PDF, NASA Office of the Chief Technologist

"Crowdfunding offers space organizations avenues for fundraising outside traditional institutional methods. Sites like,, and allow space companies to tap the financial resources of private citizens interested in space exploration. In addition to providing crucial funds for the companies, crowd funding allows citizens to directly engage in space exploration by funding the projects that interest them. The number of these projects continues to grow. Table 4 provides a few prominent examples known at the time of printing. ... ISEE-3, a NASA probe launched in 1978, became the first spacecraft in deep space to be operated by a private-sector organization thanks in part to a crowd funding campaign."

Note: When you add ISEE-3 Reboot Project ($160K) and Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project ($62K) together (both conducted by the same team) over $222,000 has been raised via crowdfunding. Click on image to enlarge.

New NASA Citizen Science Website

NASA Launches New Citizen Science Website; Opens Challenge to Participate in Future Mars Missions

"NASA announced Saturday the opening of registration for its Mars Balance Mass Challenge and the launch of its new website, NASA Solve, at the World Maker Faire in New York. "NASA is committed to engaging the public, and specifically the maker community through innovative activities like the Mars Balance Mass Challenge," said NASA Chief Technologist David Miller. "And NASA Solve is a great way for members of the public, makers and other citizen scientists to see all NASA challenges and prizes in one location."

ISEE-3 Stuff at Arecibo

ISEE-3 Reboot Project at Maker Faire New York

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