University of Portsmouth calls for 'citizen scientists' to play 'spot the difference' to aid new global telescope project

A GLOBAL telescope project is being aided by researchers from the University of Portsmouth, who want residents to play ‘spot the difference’ the telescope’s pictures to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos.

The two telescope mount systems will sweep the visible sky every few nights. Credit: University of Warwick
The two telescope mount systems will sweep the visible sky every few nights. Credit: University of Warwick

A new telescope system, made up of two identical systems on opposite sides of the planet in the Canary Islands and Australia, aims track down the sources of gravitational waves.

The Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observer (GOTO), which involves cosmologists from the University of Portsmouth, is hoped to shepherd in a new era of gravitational wave science.

GOTO began when the University of Warwick and Australia’s Monash University wanted to address the gap between gravitational wave detectors and electromagnetic signals. Now the international collaboration has 10 partners, six of which are in the UK, including the University of Portsmouth – and wants people across the UK to join their work.

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Led by Dr Lisa Kelsey, from the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, GOTOZoo will allow members of the public to participate in searching for gravitational-waves. By ‘spotting the difference’ between sets of images, citizen scientists will discover new optical signals and help train computer programmes to detect such signals in the vast amount of data GOTO will obtain.

Dr Kelsey said: ‘Citizen science is a particularly valuable tool, not only does it engage the public with innovative science in a fun and dynamic way, the work of the citizen scientists on GOTOZoo will be used to make real scientific progress.

‘It is exciting to be involved with this developing project with GOTO, particularly given the ICG’s outstanding experience in citizen science, gravitational-waves, and transient astronomy.’