The best way to learn is to do! [Or in some cases to teach others.] With Spacehack you can do both!
I know many of you are highly interested in exploring and learning about space, and don’t know exactly how to start getting involved in local, and/or communal, projects, clubs, and experiments. But don’t give up just yet! Spacehack provides a large directory of different public, and educational projects, that you can get involved in with local and national science groups, in the comfort of your own home and/or town. From planet searching and star searching, to building and launching your own satellite into space, to looking for extra-terrestrial signals for SETI. If you love space, you’ll surely find something to get involved with here! Below is a list of the different programs/projects open to the public, and a small description of what they offer. Happy exploring and expanding!
SPACEHACK - A directory of ways to participate in space exploration.
- Mapper - "Help NASA find life on Mars by exploring microbialites in the lakes of British Columbia. Microbialites are rocks that are influenced by microbes when they formed. Microbialites are rare on Earth today, but were the only forms of life on Earth for the first billion years of its history. Scientists think that by learning more about microbialites here on Earth, we’ll have a better idea of where to search for life in outer space. By exploring and tagging the locations of these microbialites, you’re helping part of the scientific search for signs of life on Mars and other planets."
- Milky Way Project - “A project where you can help create a better understanding of how the Milky Way evolves over time and potentially make new unexpected scientific discoveries. The Milky Way Project aims to sort and measure our galaxy and the characteristics of its cold, dusty material that is so important to creating stars. The project calls on people to find bubbles, star clusters and unusual characteristics in infrared images acquired from the Spitzer Space Telescope.”
- SETILive - ”Help search for life on another planet by analyzing potential alien signals coming from within our galaxy. SETILive is taking the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) directly to you by presenting radio frequency signals LIVE from the SETI Institute‘s Allen Telescope Array (ATA) while it’s pointed at stars that have the best chances of being home to an alien civilization.”
- Spacelog - “A volunteer project to bring to life early manned space flight in a searchable, linkable format. In fifty years since mankind began to explore in person the universe outside our home planet, there have been many memorable moments, of beauty, of bravery, and occasionally of tragedy. For those who did not live through them it is sometimes difficult to appreciate the excitement of these early flights. Spacelog aims to bring those missions back to life: a website for exploring manned space missions through transcripts of conversations from during the flights between those in space and those back on the ground, and from photography taken at the time.”
- Constellation - “A community that provides distributed computing power to aerospace research projects that might not otherwise have access to supercomputers due to financial, administrative or bureaucratic reasons. By volunteering a percentage of your computer’s unused operating power, your computer will focus on a variety of tasks from modeling the Moon’s surface to simulating various spacecraft, thus expediting fundamental and applicable research.”
- Planet Hunters - ”Help discover new exoplanets (aka extrasolar planets/planets orbiting other stars) by exploring space telescope data from NASA’s Kepler mission. Planet Hunters is an online experiment that taps into the power of human pattern recognition.”
- Galaxy Zoo - “To understand different types of galaxies and how galaxies form, Galaxy Zoo: Hubble needs your help classifying images of hundreds of thousands of galaxies taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. If you’re quick, you may even be the first person in history to see each of the galaxies you’re asked to classify.”
- NASA World Wind - ”An open source 3D interactive world viewer created by NASA’s Learning Technologies project, released in mid-2004. It is now developed by NASA staff and open source community developers. World Windlets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really there.”
- Citizen Sky - “The Citizen Sky project provides you with a finder chart and tutorials so you can collect and contribute scientific datato help solve the mystery. Epsilon Aurigae is a variable star—this means it changes in brightness over time. Collecting data on these changes can help us understand the star. No equipment or prior experience is required; the star is so bright in fall, winter and spring that it can be observed by anyone with a good pair of eyes, even in the most light-polluted cities.”
- TubeSat Personal Satellite Kit - "Build and launch your own satellite into space! One of the primary missions at Interorbital is to provide satellite hardware and launch support for the experimental and commercial satellite community. Planet Earth has entered the age of the Personal Satellite with the introduction of Interorbital’s TubeSat Personal Satellite (PS) Kit. The new IOS TubeSat PS Kit is the low-cost alternative to the CubeSat.”
- Moon Zoo - "A citizen science project around classifying high resolution images of craters and various parts of the lunar surface taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) via the Planetary Data System (PDS). From billion-year-old volcanic eruptions and curving lava channels to recent asteroid impacts, the images you classify will help advance lunar science – providing new insights into the geological history of the Moon. Your help is also needed in identifying which parts of the Moon are covered with boulders so as to create lunar landing hazard maps for future spacecraft and human exploration missions.”
- Milky Way Home - "MilkyWay@home is a distributed computing project, harnessing the power of volunteered computers to create a highly accurate 3D model of the Milky Way galaxy. The project uses data gathered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) platform. By volunteering a percentage of your computer’s unused operating power, your computer will focus on mapping out a small section of our galaxy. MilkyWay@Home’s data, source code, research and results are open source and available for public use.”
- Solar Storm Watch - "Learn how to spot solar explosions and track them across space to Earth. Your work could make a new scientific discovery as well as give astronauts an early warning if dangerous radiation is headed their way. You’ll also find out how to pinpoint comets, particle strikes and optical effects, and how to make detailed storm measurements"
- Stardust@Home - "Together, you and thousands of other Stardust@Home participants will find the first pristine interstellar dust particles ever brought to Earth.”
- Radio JOVE - "The Radio JOVE project is a hands-on inquiry-based educational project that allows students, teachers and the general public to learn about radio astronomy by building their own radio telescope from an inexpensive kit and/or using remote radio telescopes through the internet. Radio JOVE students and amateur scientists observe and analyze natural radio emissions of Jupiter, the Sun, and our galaxy. Participants also collaborate with each other through interactions and sharing of data on the network.”
- INSPIRE Project - "A non-profit scientific, educational project whose objective is to bring the excitement of observing natural and man-made radio waves to high school students. Underlying this objective is the conviction that science and technology are the underpinnings of our modern society, and that only with an understanding of science and technology can people make correct decisions in their lives, public, professional, and private."
- Global Telescope Network - "A project that allows individuals or groups to dedicate some portion of their time to analyzing data taken with other people’s telescopes. The Global Telescope Network is a network of small telescopes around the world for the purpose of supporting the science of NASA and ESA high energy astrophysics missions, including XMM-Newton, Swift and GLAST. These missions are designed to study astronomical objects through their emission of x-rays and gamma rays."
- My NASA Data - "Mentoring and inquiry using NASA Data for Atmospheric and earth science for Teachers and Amateurs (MY NASA DATA) is a project to enable K-12 teachers and students, as well as citizen scientists, to explore the large volumes of data that NASA collects about the Earth from space. A main goal of the MY NASA DATA project is to remove the barriers (such as file size and format, and complicated computer tools) that prevent the use of authentic NASA Earth System Science data in the classroom or by the interested public.”
- Flight Analogs Project - "Help NASA get astronauts to the Moon and Mars. Future space exploration will challenge NASA to answer many critical questions about how humans can live and work for extended missions away from Earth. Currently, researchers are working to reduce the effects of space flight on the human body. To accomplish this, researchers study healthy test subjects from the general population on Earth, in a way that causes some of the changes the body goes through while traveling in space without gravity."
- Vision Workbench - "The VW is a general purpose image processing and computer vision library developed by the Autonomous Systems and Robotics (ASR) Area in the Intelligent Systems Division at the NASA Ames Research Center. VW has been publicly released under the terms of the NASA Open Source Software Agreement. They are working to establish out a process through which outside parties can actively participate as developers on this project.”
- Telescope Maker’s Workshop - "Open to all ages and free to attend, the Telescope Makers’ Workshop is an all-volunteer group committed to helping people build their own telescopes. Bring your interest and curiosity, and they’ll provide knowledge, enthusiasm, and advice to help you complete your telescope-making projects. No experience necessary."
- Open Luna Foundation - "A stepped program of robotic missions that seek to return mankind to the lunar surface, and to do it in such a way that it is accessible to everyone. The Open Luna Foundation is open source and invites everyone (hardware providers, writers, wiki-editors, designers, etc.) to contribute and share what you want to do and what science you would like to see done on their wiki.”
- Mars Student Imaging Project - "Teams of students in grades 5 through college sophomore level will have the opportunity to work with scientists, mission planners and educators on the THEMIS team at ASU’s Mars Space Flight Facility or via distance learning, to image a site on Mars using the THEMIS visible wavelength camera onboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft which is currently orbiting Mars every 2 hours. To get involved, students must have an adult facilitator to lead their team of at least 8 students."
- DASHlink - "(Discovery in Aeronautics Systems Health) supports innovation by allowing researchers to overcome the limitations of distance and disparate specialties, and by providing access to the latest research, discussion forums, aviation data sets, and data analysis algorithms."
- Celestia - “An open-source, photo-realistic, real-time, three-dimensional viewing of the solar system, the galaxy and the universe. Celestia is an easy to use, freely-distributed, multi-platform, open source, software package which has become a valuable tool for astronomy education.”
- ISS EarthKAM - “A NASA education program that provides unique, high quality photographs of our planet taken by middle school students. Using the web to direct a digital camera on space flights and the International Space Station, select middle schools request images based upon their classroom investigations. Teachers, school administrators, and other youth organization leaders are allowed to sign up for ISS EarthKAM with their group of students.”
- Great World Wide Star Count - “This project was designed to encourage students, families and interested citizens to record observations of the quality of their nighttime sky (including specific constellations – Cygnus in the Northern Hemisphere, Sagittarius in the Southern Hemisphere) and share that data with others via the GWWSC website.”
- PlanetQuest Collaboratory - “The PlanetQuest Collaboratory will turn your computer (Mac, PC, Linux, and others) into a virtual astronomical observatory that you can use to make and share real scientific discoveries. You can classify stars no one has cataloged before, use the Collaboratory to do your own research, and maybe even find a new planet!”
You can also check out Science Hack Day [from the same people of SpaceHack.] Described as “a 48-hour-all-night event that brings together designers, developers, scientists and other geeks in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking, and building ‘cool stuff’. Hack Days were originally created by Yahoo! in 2005 and soon after became a worldwide trend.” You can learn more about it here.