Now, game that will help scientists find exoplanets
Researchers have developed a new game, Super Planet Crash, which can help them find planets beyond our solar system.
The release of Super Planet Crash follows the release of the latest version of Systemic Console, a scientific software package used to pull planet discoveries out of the reams of data acquired by telescopes such as the Automated Planet Finder (APF) at the University of California's Lick Observatory.
Developed at UC Santa Cruz, Systemic Console is integrated into the workflow of the APF, and is also widely used by astronomers to analyze data from other telescopes.
Greg Laughlin, professor and chair of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, developed Systemic Console with his students, primarily Stefano Meschiari (now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas, Austin). Meschiari did the bulk of the work on the new version, Systemic 2, as a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz. He also used the Systemic code as a foundation to create not only Super Planet Crash but also an online web application (Systemic Live) for educational use.
"Systemic Console is open-source software that we've made available for other scientists to use. But we also wanted to create a portal for students and teachers so that anyone can use it," Laughlin said. "For the online version, Stefano tuned the software to make it more accessible, and then he went even further with Super Planet Crash, which makes the ideas behind planetary systems accessible at the most visceral level."
Meschiari said he's seen people quickly get hooked on playing the game. "It doesn't take long for them to understand what's going on with the orbital dynamics," he said.
(Posted on 08-04-2014)