Finding Ice

A new project is gearing up to strip off it’s beta lable: Ice Investigators. This new project allows you to work with New Horizon’s scientists to look for ice in the outer solar system.

In 1962 mankind left Earth’s orbit and began a 50 year exploration of our solar system. From Mercury to Mars, from the asteroids to to icy comets, mission by mission we have spread out across space. Only one corner of our Solar System remains unexplored: The Icy Kuiper Belt.

But that changes in 2015.

NASA’s New Horizon’s spacecraft is on a record setting journey to the outer solar system. Traveling at more than 15 km/sec, this half ton spacecraft is set to rendezvous with Pluto and Charon in July 2015. From there, this mission will have a chance to visit one or possibly two more KBOs. These final targets of exploration are waiting to be discovered, somewhere out beyond Neptune.

And perhaps it is you who will find them.

Join Ice Investigators, the newest project produced by CosmoQuest.

Explore images taken with some of the world’s largest telescopes, and look for small specks of light reflected off of Icy Worlds in the outer solar system.

These may be some of strangest looking images you’ve ever seen. Each images is actually the result of taking two sets of pictures separated by hours of days in time. These images are subtracted from one another, removing the cores of stars, and erasing objects that aren’t moving or changing brightness. Moving objects like Kuiper Belt objects move between images and appear as small solid blobs of light. These transient features are waiting for you to find them, and mark them, one by one in Ice Investigators.

The biggest question on people’s minds seems to be, how do individuals get credit for their discoveries? Here is what we have in the project FAQ:

  • Kuiper Belt Objects: All discovered KBOs will be submitted to the Minor Planet Center. The submission will be led by the scientists who are making all the observations, reducing the data, and calculating all the orbits. Within the submission, the name of every person who marked a discovered KBO will be listed. We will also maintain a catalogue on this site of all the discovered objects and all the discovery makers. Please note: Due to the restrictions on how things can get submitted, we can only include real last names and initials. We cannot use online alias.
  • Variable Stars: All discovered variable stars will be catalogued and submitted for publication in a to be determined journal. The submission will be led by team scientists and each object will be listed with the names of the individuals who discovered them.
  • Asteroids: Most of the objects noted by this project do not have sufficient data to calculate orbits. If sufficient data is achieved for any of our asteroids, they will be submitted to the Minor Planet Center and the discovery team will be allowed to name the object.

We hope to see your name in these publications!

2 Responses to Finding Ice

  1. cobaltshift May 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    1st time visitor today. Went straight to the Ice Investigators section.
    I seem to have been directed straight to the images, completely bypassing the tutorial,(I thought I had clicked on) .
    Unfortunately I thought/guessed it was a “hands on” test so I reviewed several images.
    Obviously these inputs will be poor, as they are not supported by my prior reading of the tutorial and my input should probably be discarded.
    Also I could not get the bug report to work, so I’m trying this. Cheers.


  1. #TBT Science: Ice Investigators & New Horizons | CosmoQuest Blog - July 16, 2015

    […] 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 […]

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