Players of popular space-based MMO, EVE Online, will soon get the chance to help scientists discover real-life planets orbiting distant stars, commonly known as exoplanets. The announcement was made during EVE Fanfest, an annual gathering hosted by CCP Games to discuss the game's future with its community.
The developers introduced Project Discovery last year, a crowdsourcing mini-game for helping scientific research using the MMO's vast player base. Its first venture involved contributing to expanding the Human Protein Atlas database. However, Project Discovery's new phase is far more in tune with the game's setting.
This year, the developer has partnered with the University of Reykjavik and the University of Geneva to devise an exoplanet identifying mini-game. Players who participate will receive high-definition images taken by the Kepler space telescope with the task of detecting and submitting images fitting the provided criteria. This process involves searching through the given material for any disturbances of light arriving from distant stars, a telltale sign of an exoplanet.
Images that are frequently identified by players to have the trait mentioned above will then be transferred to researchers at the University of Geneva for further analysis. In effect, the project could reduce a vast amount time and resources spent by scientists sorting through images.
To further entice players, astrophysicist Michel Mayor was a speaker at the event. In addition to leading this year's Project Discovery, Prof. Mayor was one of the scientists credited with the very first exoplanet discovery back in 1995. His hour long presentation on exoplanet detection at EVE Fanfest can be viewed above (starting at 2:27:00), followed by more information on Project Discovery later in the stream.
CCP Games are also throwing in some player rewards for taking part in the program, in the form of in-game currency, and other digital bonuses.
EVE Online's Project Discovery exoplanet hunting mini-game will arrive later this year.