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Oct 31, 2020

Citizen astronomers reshape asteroids from their backyard

Posted by in category: alien life

There are nearly one million catalogued asteroids, but we don’t know much about many of them. Now Unistellar and its scientific partner, the SETI Institute, can count on a network of nearly 3,000 amateurs capable of observing thousands of asteroids and providing an estimate of their size and shape. With mobile stations located in Asia, North America and Europe, the Unistellar network, the largest network of citizen astronomers, participates in cutting-edge research and has delivered its first scientific results including the 3D shape model of an asteroid and the size of another one.

“The Unistellar eVscope is more than a telescope. It’s also a tool to access a network made of citizen astronomers throughout the world who can observe together and participate in scientific campaigns,” said Franck Marchis, senior planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute and Chief Scientific Officer at Unistellar. “Today more than 150 people have already contributed to our campaigns and collected valuable scientific data from their backyard.”

In addition to the SETI Institute, Marchis’ group collaborated with Josef Hanuš and Josef Ďurech of the Institute of Astronomy at Charles University to identify potential targets of interest in the asteroid population. “After having designed and validated our data analysis pipeline in 2020, we can now routinely propose campaigns to our citizen astronomers,” said Marchis.

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