Computer in help to project.

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Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2006 10:28 am
Location: Russia. Kaluga. Typhoon.

Computer in help to project.

Post by kalugamf »

Good day.

I have got an information about the Stardust@home project from the magazine news.
Using internet i found the site of the project and completed a course of lessons.

The idea of the project is perfect.
I have got much pleasure by using virtual microscope, but i have few questions.
Please, don't perceive my questions critically.
I really interested in answers.
The question: stardust@home really scientific project? исследования
2.Is volonteer's work really profitable for searchings or they are working only for pleasure (but anyway it's obviously that they get much pleasure from this work)?
As i understood the volume of the work of track's searching is really great.
I interesting: is stardust@home team had attempts to decrease the area of track searching and decrease the time of work with movies (by exclude movies which don't include frames with tracks and exclude movies with bad focus)

May be "we" can do it by using computer?
the moon
Posts: 177
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:34 am

Post by the moon »

1. The NASA project to find and analyze intersteller dust particules is very scientific. However the stardust@home project is not. We are mearly here to help them find the tracks faster by giving our opinion on each movie. Just because many people identify a movie as having a track, doesn't mean it has one. But it does vastly narrow down the locations of possible tracks so the team can use their scientific methods to determine what's really there.

2. The team has said stardust@home has been very successful. Without the volunteer's help they would have to view each of the thousands and thousands of movies themselves, and their small budget and involvement in other projects prevents them from doing that. There is simply no other way to find these microscopic particules. The idea of using computer software to analyze the images instead has been discussed a lot, here's one response from the team about it.
We came up with the idea of involving the public in this search after conversations with our colleagues just down the hall from us who operate SETI@home. Instead of asking the public to volunteer their computer's free time to analyze radio telescope data, we are asking the public to volunteer their own time. This is not unprecedented. There have been other projects where humans are more efficient in searching for features in images: Clickworkers, and Spacewatch are two such examples.

We originally planned to conduct both a public search and develop software to search the data in parallel. Even if we could design sophisticated enough software to find the dust, it would need to be taught what the tracks look like. No one has ever captured interstellar dust in this way, so we really did't know what the tracks would look like with enough precision to have the software be successful without at least a dozen examples. So we would need to find most of the dust first before the software could effectively search for the rest.

NASA did not fund our proposal for the full amount requested and we had to scale back the project a bit (this is normal in space science research). We decided to go with the public search because it has a higher probability of successfully finding the dust. The question of speed is not really relevant. If we were starting with all 700,000 fields of view already scanned, had good software and our army of volunteers ready to go, clearly the software would be faster. However, we have to scan the aerogel to create all 700,000 focus movies first. That process is laborious. The automated microscope can scan about 1 tile per day, but for only about 4 days a week (the staff at the interstellar dust lab at Johnson Space Center in Houston have other projects beside this one). There are 130 tiles to scan, so it will take over 7 months to complete the scan. We have enough volunteers that the search will be over only days after the last tile is successfully scanned and uploaded. So, even if computer software were doing the search it would still take a mininum of 7 months to complete. Since people are more likely to find the dust with higher efficiency, that is what we chose to do.

We do encourage anyone out there who thinks they could write software to effectively search for the interstellar dust to do so. We'd be interested in seeing what people come up with. It could potentially be very useful.
As for your last question, I'm not 100% what you're asking but from time to time they do remove movies that have been viewed many times and are found to not have tracks or are in bad focus.
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