CosmoQuest’s Image Detectives

NASA had me at CosmoQuest, Image Detective sweetened the pot. A NASA funded citizen science project seeks public help identifying geographic features in photographs taken from the International Space Station. ISS astronauts take scores of photographs, science needs citizen help in creating a searchable image database of natural and man-made global locations. All you do is sign up, look at images and identify features.

Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) lead investigator Pamela L Gay said –

The astronauts’ photos of Earth are visually stunning, but more than that, they can be used to study our changing Earth. From erupting volcanoes, to seasonal flooding, these images document the gradual changes that happen to our landscape.

The trick is, we need to make these images searchable, and that means taking the time to sort through, analyze, and label (add metadata) the unidentified images within the database of 1.5 million plus photos.”

Jennifer Grier, Senior Education and Communication Specialist at PSI, CosmoQuest’s lead support scientist added –

This is a unique, powerful, and beautiful image data set that has already yielded excellent research science. But the data set needs the many eyes and minds of citizen scientists to reach its full potential as a publicly available, searchable catalog. With the additions that citizen scientists as detectives can make, professional research scientists will be able to conduct more research into our changing world, and do so much more effectively.”

Sign up at –

Algerian desert from the ISS –





We Caught Sight Of Ourselves

From the moment mankind became humanity, emerging awareness directed our gaze toward night skies. Primal awakening responsible for cosmic wonder was evolution’s gift, the catalyst for language, science and technology. The cosmos gave us mythology and ritual, made sense of time and seasons. It begged us to accept unfathomable possibilities, to open eyes and imagination to something that just was.

We tried to fathom our herculean universe, struggled to find a frame of reference – then one day, we caught sight of ourselves. From that moment on nothing would ever be the same.


View of Earth from a camera on V-2 #13, launched October 24, 1946. (White Sands Missile Range/Applied Physics Laboratory)

Earth seen from moon via Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968. Image via NASA

the first picture of the earth and moon in a single frame september 18 1977

First image of Earth and Moon in a single frame. Taken in 1977 by NASA’s Voyager 1, 11..66 million kilometers from Earth.

Apollo 17 Astronaut Cernan Adjusts U.S. Flag on Lunar Surface

Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene A. Cernan on lunar surface, 1972.

picture of the earth and moon as seen from mars

First image of Earth and Moon taken from the surface of another planet – MGS (Mars Global Surveyor) 2003. MGS wasn’t capable of colorized images, a Mariner 10 Earth/Moon image from 1973 was used to colorize image.

the pale blue dot by nasa voyager 1 carl sagan famous words

The “Pale Blue Dot” ( halfway down the image in the brown band to the right) planet Earth captured by Voyager 1 in 1990. About to leave our solar system, at the request of Carl Sagan NASA directed Voyager 1 to turn around and take one last photograph of Earth from a distance of 6 billion kilometers.