#TBT Science: Ice Investigators & New Horizons

Jul 16, 2015 | Ice Investigators

For many who have been paying (perhaps a bit too much) attention to the Pluto system fly by (can their be too much attention of that?) today is the day to sleep. No press conferences. No news was expected.* It’s just a day to catch up and bask in the data before the pressers start all over tomorrow.

It’s also a Thursday, and we decided that we’d celebrate the #TBT – throwback Thursday – hashtag with a look back at how CosmoQuest played a role in the New Horizon’s mission.

Back in March of 2012, we launched a little project called Ice Investigators. This was the sequel to the Ice Hunters software our team at SIUE created for the Zooniverse. Together, these two citizen science projects let folks like you explore ground-based images designed to identify Kuiper Belt Objects that New Horizons may be able to reach in the coming years (NASA funding willing). You can read more about the project here. We also put together an explainer video (below).

This set of projects didn’t succeed in finding *the* KBOs that have been flagged as possible destinations for New Horizons continuing explorations of the outer Solar System. We did find two KBOs with sufficient confirmation of orbital elements that the Minor Planet Center accepted them and gave them designations. (We also found what felt like an endless list of objects that didn’t have good enough orbital data to get published. This was a frustration to everyone, but it is the reality of KBO hunting.)

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 4.14.50 PMIf you were part of Ice Investigators, you can now revisit the images you marked in the galleries.

For this #TBT, let’s celebrate what Ice Investigators accomplished. You found KBOs! You helped explore the outer solar system! You are part of the New Horizons Team.

While Ice Investigators is over, Planet Mappers: Mars edition (aka Mars Mappers) is asking you to help do the tasks needed to find a prime landing spot for the Mars 2020 Rover. Let’s keep giving spacecraft a hand, and keep exploring our Solar System.


* They did release this awesome detail image of Charon, that includes a “Mountain in a Moat.”




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