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Discover Habitable Planets Before The Professionals Do

Using the VLVSTA (Very Large Very Small Telescope Array)
  (+9, -2)
(+9, -2)
  [vote for,

Use software to combine images from millions of small computer connected telescopes to image the sky
theircompetitor, Jan 06 2004

Using interferometry to detect planets http://www.space.co..._dish_020123-1.html
"...interferometers don't derive their power from light gathering. They provide sharp images from crashing light waves into each other from different receiving locations." [krelnik, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

The Professionals http://www.personal...fessionals/home.htm
[calum, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

A computer scientist discovers a new asteroid http://www.cbsnews....ch/main596730.shtml
This is almost the reverse idea. A big telescope takes pictures and lots of humans review them. Not sure why this can't be more automated [theircompetitor, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Supercomputers probing the mysteries of the big bang http://www.eet.com/...ws/OEG20040220S0039
Research. The Astron project will use 10,000 small low-frequency radio antennas spread over the Netherlands and northern Germany [theircompetitor, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Telescope Farm http://www.halfbake...ea/Telescope_20Farm
[DrCurry]'s similar idea. [phoenix, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Small telescopes discovering planets http://www.cnn.com/...ope.reut/index.html
[theircompetitor, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Backyard Planet Detection http://www.space.co...cience_tuesday.html
[theircompetitor, May 23 2006]

Transit Search http://www.transitsearch.org/
As mentioned above: "a cooperative observational effort designed to allow experienced amateur astronomers and small college observatories to discover transiting extrasolar planets". [bellorie, May 23 2006]

SETI@Home http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/
SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. [kuupuuluu, May 24 2006]

Backyard telescopes finding a planet http://www.space.co...8_draco_planet.html
[theircompetitor, Sep 08 2006]

Time is running out http://kepler.nasa.gov/
Kepler mission launching today [theircompetitor, Mar 06 2009]

It is happening http://www.scientif...nd-exoplan-11-09-23
[theircompetitor, Sep 24 2011]

NASA initiative for same http://www.cnn.com/...lds-trnd/index.html
[theircompetitor, Feb 22 2017]

Zooniverse http://www.bbc.com/...nvironment-42644531
[theircompetitor, Jan 12 2018]

Mine, all mine... https://en.m.wikipe.../Teegarden%27s_star
Has my name on it. [RayfordSteele, Jan 12 2018]



Oh my god, I found one!
phundug, Jan 06 2004

       And once you discover these planets, what are you going to do with them...? (My hyperdrive unit seems not to be working today.)
DrCurry, Jan 06 2004

       phundug, I saw it first, ok? OK?
Fishrat, Jan 06 2004

       DrCurry: probably sell property on them. I hear people are getting anywhere from $25 and up per moon acre
theircompetitor, Jan 06 2004

       * < this one's not habitable, but I found it. Do I win something?
k_sra, Jan 06 2004

       Quite a large number of comets are discovered by amateurs using easily obtainable equipment. This scales that up massively to attack a harder problem. Why not?   

       Comet finders get their name put on the object, would planet finders get the same consideration?
krelnik, Jan 06 2004

       Definitely. Or we won't tell them where it is.
theircompetitor, Jan 06 2004

       I like it. Where can I get a networked telescope? Perhaps networked telescopes could be part of the marketing scheme.
Worldgineer, Jan 06 2004

       Worldgineer: I think the real estate angle is more promising -- just got another spam about naming a star, and the holidays are over for two weeks.   

       But I guess we can make a few on the telescopes, too :)
theircompetitor, Jan 06 2004

       I'll name mine "Planet Starbucks" ... or "Planet Metallica"
Letsbuildafort, Jan 06 2004

       Letsbuildafort, If we can get the aliens addicted to coffee, so much the better, but I want a cut
theircompetitor, Jan 06 2004

       thx. Sadly the NG is starting to fade, so I don't remember, and was never much of a Voyager fan. Gotta get those DVDs.
theircompetitor, Jan 06 2004

       I can't just give in to the competition like that ...
Letsbuildafort, Jan 06 2004

       Although I have to say Seven of Nine beats that new Vulcan chic hands down. I just can't make myself get in to that show
theircompetitor, Jan 06 2004

       This would not work. You need massive light gathering power to detect a wobbling star that gives away the presence of extrasolar planets orbiting it.   

       Combined images from small scopes won't catch that - you'll just get a giant collection of low amounts of light. You gotta have a big honkin' light-sucker scopes like the twin 30 meter Kecks in Hawaii.
waugsqueke, Jan 06 2004

       lbf: Planet Hollywood, surely?
DrCurry, Jan 06 2004

       //You gotta have a big honkin' light-sucker scopes//
Not always. Interferometry can be used to find extrasolar planets with smaller scopes. See link.
krelnik, Jan 06 2004

       Those are radio scopes. You need visible light for extrasolar planet detection (unless you're looking for planets around pulsars).   

       Small is relative when it comes to interferometers. You don't need scopes as big as the Kecks but typically they are 3 meters or larger (4m in the case of the Chilean project), which are considerably larger than a typical amateur astronomer's 6-10 inch model, which is what I presume the author's millions of small computers are connected to.
waugsqueke, Jan 06 2004

       My favorite Soviet era joke, hopefully translates well:   

       Members of the Politburo gather on July 21st, day
after Apollo Landing. In front of them, pale but
resolute, are the top Soviet Rocket Scientists.

       "Comrades", Brezhnev starts, "this is completely
unacceptable. We have to upstage the Americans.
There is only one thing to do."

       "Yes, Mr. Secreteray?", they ask with trepidation.

       "You'll have to fly to the Sun", Brezhnev says.

       "But Comrade!", a lead scientist exlaims, "what are
you saying, we'll burn up!"

       Brezhnev looks at him with disain in his eyes, and says:

       "Whatever you might think, Comrade Scientist, we're not morons here at the Politburo."   

       "You'll fly at night".
theircompetitor, Jan 06 2004

       the software is very complicated, but they already write it for a variety of similar problems. Not impossible.
theircompetitor, Jan 07 2004

       For the interferometry to work, if I understand the article correctly, the exact location of the telescope must be known. How would that be measured, and what steps would be taken to ensure the 'scope wasn't moved after the location measurement?
lyrl, Jan 07 2004

       Might be neat, anyway. A large array of networked telescopes sounds like it would be a lot of fun to play with, even if you couldn't find a planet noone's seen before. (+)
Baker^-1, Jan 07 2004

       I'm assuming that the telescope is attached to a PC were a human can enter exact coordinates, gps would work as well, of course
theircompetitor, Jan 07 2004

       A couple of years ago, I would have called this unfeasible, as the resolution of consumer-level CCD or CMOS or whatever-is-state-of-the-art image sensors was not really sufficient to produce a quality image, but now, with the consumer availability of 35mm-size 13MP sensors (52MP if you go pure b/w) (ok, so they're still more expensive than a cheap car), this might just work. [+]
Freefall, Jan 07 2004

       Could a similar experiment be performed with zip codes and people simply sticking their web cams out a window? If you did this for the evening and downloaded the data packet in the morning to a SETIatHOME type server? You could even ask people to leave their equipment out and program the camera to take a shot or two, then, done. Still might lead to wildly complicated data. If you send a unique packet o information back, all "they" really need for a rough image-type guess (and with all them teeny cameras that's all you'd get anyway under perfect circumstances) would be your zip code plus four. I agree that interferometry would need an address. But maybe not that much of an address.
cloudface, Jan 24 2004

       cloudface -- I don't know that the webcam would give you a good enough magnification, though.
theircompetitor, Jan 24 2004

       Please note the 10,000 radio antennas in the link just added.
theircompetitor, Feb 23 2004

       Seems redundant with [DrCurry]'s idea.
phoenix, Apr 29 2004

       Light-based interferometry between two telescopes cannot be accomplished via image comparison. It's done by directly combining the light gathered from two telescopes such that the image from one cancels out the image from the other (hence the term "interferometry"), and the only image that is captured is the difference between the two. Essentially, it's a physical differencing process. It can be used to capture images of extremely small objects (such as a large planet) orbiting relatively close to a comparatively large and bright object (the planet's star) by adjusting the light path to cancel out the star, while the very slight parallax difference allows the planet to be seen.   

       If you already had an object that could be resolved by a cheap (consumer-grade) telescope, you could point two telescopes from opposite sides of the earth at it and use parallax to measure distance, but it wouldn't be helpful in finding any new planets.
Freefall, Apr 29 2004

       phoenix -- I don't think so -- I think DrCurry is talking about accessing telescope farms over the web, where is I'm talking about connecting the telescopes we have at home via the Internet and using them as an array.
theircompetitor, Apr 29 2004

       Apparently small telescopes could be used for finding planets after all
theircompetitor, Aug 24 2004

       o .   

       mine has a moon
schematics, Aug 25 2004

       O o.   

       Mine has a Moon, and orbits a Sun... beat that!
MikeOliver, May 23 2006

       Wow, a binary star system!
jutta, May 23 2006

       SETI already do something similiar to this, so it's quite feasable. See link.
kuupuuluu, May 24 2006

       O -o- I found a planet with rings. Either that or an alien spacecraft.
imaginality, May 24 2006

       Zimmy, took me a while to arrive at the same star system, until I realized you're referring to a joke I posted 2 years ago! Fly at night indeed.
theircompetitor, May 24 2006

       On a similar theme to this idea, I wonder if it's possible to discover habitable planets before The Avengers do?
Ian Tindale, May 24 2006

       I'd like to see a planet 'A Team'.   

       As for planets   


       (mine has a planetary ring with the mysteries of the cosmos encoded in it)
zen_tom, May 24 2006

Ian Tindale, May 24 2006

       Ha - that's enough about my planetary ring - now, what would happen if we were to dope Uranus with enough dense material for it to start the hydrogen fusing? Yes, we'd have a sun, literally shining out of Uranus.
zen_tom, May 24 2006

       "I bet that if you threw that ass into the air it would turn into sunshine"   

       & My apologies to everyone, especially [theircompetitor]. Why can't I stay away? I hope things have been light & dreamy (krispy creamy) whilst I did.
Zimmy, May 29 2006

       I'm sorry [k_sra], but that's not a planet, it's a star...
DesertFox, May 30 2006

       "I hear people are getting anywhere from $25 and up per moon acre."   

       How is it theirs to sell? Whatever isn't claimed is mine!
kevinthenerd, May 30 2006

       That's no moon, it's a space station
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 11 2007

       Sure, why not? I'm already a star.
RayfordSteele, Feb 22 2017

       If you let us know your criteria for "habitable" (presumably oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere, free surface water, low ionizing radiation, acceptably low number of Starbucks branches) we'll email* you a list of nearby** planets in the Alpha quadrant.   

       *Might have to be ftp'd, it's a big file.   

       **For a given value of "nearby".
8th of 7, Jan 12 2018


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