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Citizen scientists join the search for Planet 9

Backyard Worlds enlists amateurs to look for celestial objects

7:00am, May 29, 2017
WISE satellite

BACKYARD WORLDS  By scrutinizing images taken by NASA’s WISE satellite (illustrated), volunteers can help a group of astronomers find undiscovered space objects.

Astronomers want you in on the search for the solar system’s ninth planet.

In the online citizen science project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, space lovers can flip through space images and search for this potential planet as well as other far-off worlds awaiting discovery.

The images, taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite, offer a peek at a vast region of uncharted territory at the far fringes of the solar system and beyond. One area of interest is a ring of icy rocks past Neptune, known as the Kuiper belt. Possible alignments among the orbits of six objects out there hint that a ninth planet exerting its gravitational influence lurks in the darkness (SN: 7/23/16, p. 9). The WISE satellite may have imaged this distant world, and astronomers just haven

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