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Google isn’t the only one using digital tools and crowdsourcing to discover new worlds.

Tom Vanderbilt
September 12, 2016

The Milky Way Project

It’s not just our understanding of the Earth that is benefiting from citizen-science projects. In this program, run by Zooniverse, tens of thousands of volunteers, sifting through infrared satellite imagery, have helped scientists locate—with nearly 10 times more success than previous surveys—some 5,000 “bubbles” (places where stars have formed) in the Milky Way.

World Flora Online

This initiative, led by institutions such as the New York Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, aims to digitally index (and make available to everyone) an entire listing of the world’s plants—some 400,000 species. The program has even sent botanists to South America to study Brazilian flora.

Global Xplorer

This project, led by National Geographic Explorer and TED fellow Sarah Parcak, tasks users with looking through high-resolution satellite imagery to identify unknown archaeological sites. The program, which is funded by a TED prize, will launch in Peru later this year—Parcak’s team thinks they may have already discovered a new cemetery in the Nasca region.

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