There’s something so exciting about scientific discovery. The number of scientists it takes to pour over troves of data is awe-inspiring; Spacehack lets you join in.
Spacehack is a directory of projects that allow anyone to participate in space exploration. Ariel Waldman, author of What's It Like in Space and advisor for the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program, and Lisa Ballard, who developed a data search tool for NASA's outer planet missions, curate a list of projects that "allow anyone, with or without a formal science background, to make an active contribution to the furthering of space exploration and knowledge."
Spacehack takes the idea of STEM activities to another level by allowing kids to have a direct impact on an ongoing scientific project. Not all projects are suitable for kids, but they might enjoy discovering new comets hiding within our solar system’s asteroid belt, classifying and maybe even discovering new galaxies, and mapping global light pollution.
My favorite project is Planet Four, which allows you to explore the surface of Mars, specifically the southern polar region, an area we know little about. You assist by marking “blotches” and “fans” of dust deposits captured in photos by spacecraft, which helps planetary scientists learn about Mars’ climate.
Many projects let you create a safe and free account so you can track your progress, but all projects can be worked on free of registration. Kids can do as little or as much as they want, and it all contributes to furthering space research.
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