"The entire world can help us" find exoplanets (alien planets), says a Kepler scientist. NASA is throwing open its list of possible exoplanets to anyone who wants to look.
T. Pyle / JPL-Caltech / NASA-Ames
Scientists with NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft have revamped the mission's online archive of alien worlds, opening up the database for the entire world to see.
Researchers are now posting all exoplanet sightings by the Kepler observatory into a single, comprehensive website called the "NASA Exoplanet Archive." Instead of going through the long planet confirmation process before making data publicly available, since December of last year, scientists have started shoveling out all the data Kepler collects into a comprehensive list.
"When we make that list, right away it goes to the archive," Kepler mission team member Steve Howell told SPACE.com during the 221st American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif., this month. "So the day we know about the list, the archive knows about the list. And then everybody, including us, can work on that list. But that list is dynamic so if we, or a community person, makes an observation and says, 'Hey, I looked at this planet candidate but it's really an eclipsing binary,' then that entry in the archive will be changed."