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The Contributions of the Unistellar Citizen Science Network to Planetary Defense

Presentation #405.05 in the session Asteroids: Planetary Defense (Poster)

Published onOct 23, 2023
The Contributions of the Unistellar Citizen Science Network to Planetary Defense

The Unistellar Citizen Science Network is a worldwide network of more than 10,000 citizen astronomers who take scientific observations using their eVscopes. The network was designed with the intention of democratizing astronomy, lowering the barrier to entry for hobbyist participation by partnering observers with professional astronomers at the SETI Institute. In the two years since its official launch, over 1,500 observations have been made of near-Earth asteroids, comets, and human-made missions like the James Webb Space Telescope.

The network composed of around 2,000 active citizen scientists has already begun to contribute to the field of Planetary Defense. In total, 850 astrometric reports have also been submitted to the Minor Planet Center since the inception of the network. In May of 2022, a coordinated observation effort by 34 citizen astronomers provided the data needed to determine the rotation period of near-Earth asteroid 7335 (1989JA) during a close approach. In September of 2022, four citizen astronomers of the citizen science network were able to observe the DART impact as it occurred. Over the course of September and October, 31 citizen astronomers observed the Didymos system and the ejecta from the impact. Analysis of the data characterizing the ejecta colors, estimating the mass lost from the impact, and measuring the strength and duration of the increased brightness of the system following the impact was published in Nature earlier this year.

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