Volunteers wanted for planet hunt

January 16, 2012 | Source: BBC News

Transiting planets cross the star in hours and cause quick dips in the brightness of the star (credit: Planethunters)

Members of the public are being asked to join the hunt for nearby planets that could support life.

Volunteers can go to the Planethunters website to see time-lapsed images of 150,000 stars, taken by the Kepler space telescope. They will be advised on the signs that indicate the presence of a planet and how to alert experts if they spot them.

“We know that people will find planets that are missed by the computer,” said Chris Lintott from Oxford University. “When humans have looked at data, we know they find planets that computers can’t.”