Happy B-day PlanetHunters!

It’s hard to believe that the first year has flown by and I would like to thank you and congratulate you on your many successes!  You may not realize it, but you are becoming famous among professional astronomers who appreciate the power of networked citizen scientists.  The total time that you all spent collectively analyzing light curves in the past year adds up to more than 100 years!

In the last year we’ve seen:

  • improvements in the usability of the site
  • growth in the number of users:  there are now more than 70,000 PlanetHunters!
  • increases in the data content: from 1 month to 4 months of light curve data
  • publication of one paper with PlanetHunters users as co-authors – the Kepler computer algorithms are good, but you are discovering planets that the computers miss.

There are some big changes ahead.  NASA and the Kepler team will be accelerating the release of data into the public archives. By this time next year, we expect that the length of the time series light curves on the PlanetHunters site will more than quadruple.  At this point will will be receiving the data almost real-time!

I would also like to thank the Kepler team. The Kepler spacecraft was launched in March 2009 and although the nominal mission ends in 2012, the spacecraft will continue to beam data back to Earth until 2015. However, financial pressures have already resulted in cuts to the Kepler science team. It’s not clear that anyone will be left after next year to receive the messages that Kepler is sending back about planets in Earth-like orbits. Whatever happens, the Kepler team has profoundly changed our understanding of the Universe and I know that I speak for the more than 70,000 PlanetHunters in thanking them for their dedication and hard work.

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2 responses to “Happy B-day PlanetHunters!”

  1. Andres Eloy Martinez Rojas (andsul) says :

    Congratulations to all!, has been an exciting year, we will continue on the hunt for planets.

  2. Carrell R Killebrew says :

    I just started, so please forgive my ignorance.

    It is possible we could have a flattened best-fit curve representation of the data to look at? Especially for trying to pick out more subtle transit events. It seems that most stars are not represented by nice little smooth lines or curves, and that transits are variations from the “expected” luminosity. If I could also have a view of a flat line driven from a best fit curve when I look at the raw data, I could make a better estimation.

    Alternatively is the raw data available in something like a spreadsheet format? I might try (it has been years) to fix this up for my own use.

    Merry Christmas 2011

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