Planet Hunters Gets Highlighted in the NASA Astrophysics Roadmap
In March 2013, the Astrophysics Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council/Science Committee assembled a group of astronomers and astrophysicists tasked with the goal of coming together and developing a guide for the next 30 years of NASA’s Astrophysics Division. This document dubbed the ‘NASA Astrophysics Roadmap’ outlines what the scientific community believes the overarching goals and aims for NASA science and missions should be for the next 30 years. It builds upon the Decadal Survey which the US astronomical community assembles every 10 years (last one was 2010) prioritizing where they think funding should go and what big facilities and questions should be focused on in the next decade for all ground-based and space-based astronomy and astrophysics. The NASA Raodmap is similar, but sketches out the wishlist and plan astronomers want to see NASA take in terms of research areas to focus on, new technology to develop, and space missions to pursue in the next 3 decades.
The Roadmap team spent months getting community feedback and preparing this document.The 2013 Astrophysics Roadmap officially titled ‘Enduring Quests Daring Visions NASA Astrophysics in the Next Three Decades’ was released on December 20th. You can read the full NASA Astrophysics Roadmap here.
Planet Hunters and Galaxy Zoo were highlighted and praised in the Roadmap. In Chapter 5 – Public Engagement: Connecting Through Astronomy:
Similarly, accessibility to NASA data via online archives has given the public an opportunity to actively participate in data analysis alongside professional astronomers. This new field of citizen science exists in many disciplines, but astrophysics is uniquely poised to build on the public’s inherent fascination with astronomy and to engage people in authentic experiences with NASA-unique data. Projects like Galaxy Zoo and Planet Hunters (with over 855,000 registered users in Zooniverse as of this writing; see Chapters 2 and 3) have led the way in astrophysics citizen science, providing online user-friendly interfaces through which anyone can classify galaxies or look for signatures of planets in actual data. Similarly, programs such as the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program have provided ways for educators to become involved in ongoing astronomy research using NASA data archives. Future programs should build on the community’s best-practices in order to make more NASA data accessible to the public and teachers in this highly participatory way
In addition to the mention in the Public Engagement Chapter, Panet Hunters got a cutout figure highlighting the project (shown below) in the exoplanets chapter (Chapter 2: Are We Alone?).
The fact that Planet Hunters is featured in the Astrophysics Roadmap is a testament to the impact the project has had in the past three years. Thank you for making Planet Hunters such a success!