NASA wants public to find a missing planet

Adjust Comment Print

The endeavor, which is a collaboration between NASA, UC Berkeley and other institutions, allows everyday space enthusiasts to search for brown dwarfs and other objects beyond Neptune's orbit, including Planet 9. Online volunteers "using the powerful ability of the human brain to recognize motion" may be luckier, he said.

Consequently, it was renamed the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE).

The WISE project used in the Planet Nine project scanned the entire night sky between 2009 and 2010 making a number of discoveries including finding unusual galaxies, black holes, and near-Earth asteroids.

Participants in the citizen scientist project are being asked to look for false positives, artifacts that look like real objects in the solar system, according to the Zooniverse website hosting Backyard Worlds.

NASA says the images show objects gradually moving across the sky.

The best estimates suggest that the planet is about 149 billion km (92.6 billion miles) from the Sun - or 75 times more distant than former planet Pluto.

Since Pluto was infamously demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006, some astronomers have turned their attention to finding the true Planet 9, a hypothetical, Neptune-sized world that orbits the Sun at least a few hundred times further out than Earth.

The Planet X is expected to be four light-years away, between the planet Neptune and the nearest star Proxima Centauri.

James Mattis to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies: Pay fair share for defense
The United States for years has called for European allies to spend 2 percent of economic output on defence , he said. Of NATO's 28 members, just the U.S., Greece, Poland, Estonia and the United Kingdom met the target.

Want to find a new planet?

Automated searches for moving objects in the WISE data have already proven successful, but computerized searches are often overwhelmed by image artifacts - visual noise - especially in crowded parts of the sky.

The new website uses the data to search for unknown objects in and beyond our own solar system. These include brightness spikes associated with star images and blurry blobs caused by light scattered inside WISE's instruments. In fact, within the population of brown dwarfs, there exist the coldest known brown dwarfs known as "Y dwarfs".

The website, Backyard Worlds, takes data collected in 2010 and 2011 by the WISE telescope.

Anything noticed by the citizen scientists will be tagged for examination by NASA scientists and share in the credit of any discovery being made. The WISE spacecraft was also used to search for near-Earth asteroids.

The theoretical Planet Nine is based on the gravitational pull it exerts on these bodies, with astronomers confident it will be found in the coming years.

The site, called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, contains footage from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, which produced the most comprehensive survey of the entire sky at mid-infrared wavelengths to date. The space agency is looking to fulfill an amateur astronomer's dream - credit for the discovery of a new planet.

Meisner, who specializes in creating high-resolution maps of the universe, is also now working on the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, a project at Lawrence Berkeley National laboratory that seeks to learn how mysterious dark energy affects the expansion of the universe.

Comments