Solar storms could wreak havoc on satellites and power grids, and so scientists have humbly turned to netizens across the world to help watch our sun for possible signs of such storms. Anyone who can spare some time from YouTube and Facebook also gets to peer at nifty 3-D images of the sun, according to BBC.
The plea for help comes from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, which has set up a Solar Stormwatch website for would-be Earth saviors. The website contains imagery collected by two NASA spacecraft that together create “stereo” 3-D images of the sun’s coronal mass ejections.
A quick tutorial teaches netizens what to look in the image overload, so that they can tip off scientists about possible solar storms forming.
Space weather experts found that a solar storm similar to the ones that struck in 1921 and 1859 could leave millions without electricity, running water or phone service, based on a FEMA simulation conducted this past month.
Another crowd-sourcing effort led to a Canadian citizen’s possible discovery of the first interstellar dust grains. So even if you have just an hour or two, try your hand at a bit of crowd-sourcing in the name of Earth defense. The Solar Stormwatch site is here.