[Air-L] Aurorasaurus is live!

Andrea H. Tapia atapia at ist.psu.edu
Mon Nov 10 10:20:52 PST 2014

Aurorasaurus is live!
And just in time too. The sun has been very active recently and the likelihood that we’ll see some auroras at lower latitudes is rising.

You can download the app free (iOS or Android search aurorasaurus).
Go check out the website www.Aurorasaurus.org.

Please share widely. Now is the moment.

For more information on the project:

The College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University, NASA-Goddard and the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) are launching a new citizen science platform called Aurorasaurus that allows the public to track auroras in real-time using their smartphones and the project website. The project will provide essential data to help space scientists understand the mechanics behind the beautiful green and red light phenomenon in the sky.

Auroras, also known as the northern lights, are a natural light display in the sky caused by charged particles from near Earth space exciting neutral particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Space scientists still lack an understanding of many specific mechanics of auroras, such as what causes their intricate shapes and how to accurately predict the strength of activity driven by the Sun.

To answer these scientific mysteries, the Aurorasaurus project team is recruiting the general public to track auroras via social media, providing scientists an abundant source of valuable data points during this upcoming year. This upcoming year is a solar maximum year—a period that occurs every 11 years when the sun is extremely active—and is expected to have an increased number of auroras. This is the first solar maximum with social media.

Dr. Andrea Tapia, an Associate Professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology stated, “We can watch the Sun much more accurately than we can predict its effects on Earth 93 million miles away. Our goal is to collect new data from citizen scientists and crowdsourcing to allow actionable, up to the minute understanding of auroral activity.”

Citizen scientists can report and verify any aurora sightings using the Aurorasaurus iOS and Android apps or the project website, www.Aurorasaurus.org.  The public can register via Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to receive email and location based notifications and points on the Aurorasaurus leaderboard. Aurorasaurus also features a map showing real time aurora sightings, the weather, as well as the ability to check solar wind power.  A space weather blog with news features, general information about recent auroral events, and a forum allowing users to ask questions to space scientists is another first.

The Aurorasaurus Scientist Network features 10 scientists and is expanding. Social media can be a powerful tool. “Using citizen science and real time data, this website can operate at scale, and change the way we provide information about solar storms, which will allow a more accurate “nowcast” of the visibility of the Northern Lights for the public,” said Dr. Elizabeth MacDonald, Aurorasaurus founder.

This fascinating and powerful website is easy to understand. Check it out at http://aurorasaurus.org/ and follow us for updates on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.  Register on the website to receive notifications of when the aurora is seen near you. Don’t forget to download our app for your smartphone (iOS or Android). This website is available due to funding by the Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) program.

Andrea H. Tapia, atapia at ist.psu.edu

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