Stardust@home Phase VI Launching in June 2013

Greetings Dusters! Thank you for your incredible patience these last few months. Most of the team has been wrapping up the Interstellar Preliminary Examination (ISPE) funded phase of the Stardust@home mission. Now that things have settled a bit, we will be rolling out Stardust@home Phase VI very soon. Here’s what’s new in Phase VI:

Skill Score: In Phase VI, your Skill Score will be a more accurate representation of your current dusting skill. Instead of reflecting your abilities from when you started dusting in Phase VI, your Skill Score will always be based on the last 100 Power Movies you’ve searched over the last 60 days. If you haven’t clicked on 100 Power Movies over the last 60 days, your Skill Score will not display. Otherwise, the Skill Score formula will remain the same. Thus, your Skill Score equals your Power Score divided by your Power Score plus an adjustment for the difficulty (value) of the Power Movies you’ve missed from the last 100 Power Movies you’ve clicked on. Each time you miss a Power Movie, the adjustment is calculated as 85 minus the value of the missed Power Movie. A running total is then kept of this adjustment and used to calculate your Skill Score. The formula can also be expressed as follows: Skill Score = Power Score / {Power Score + running total of adjustments}, where each adjustment = (85 – missed Power Movie value)

New Tile Data: There will be 30,613 new Virtual Microscope (VM) movies released for Phase VI, which represents eight aerogel tiles. One of the tiles is from the Stardust spacecraft’s Cometary Collector (see below) and seven newly scanned tiles are from the Stardust Interstellar Collector (SDIC). In addition, there will be 37,691 older SDIC movies that have been searched less than 20 times.

Comet Tracks: As you may recall, the Stardust spacecraft also collected particles from comet Wild 2 (see: The scientists working on these much larger tracks and particles in the aerogel tiles from the other side of the Stardust collector would like our help to make sure they didn’t miss any small comet tracks. Thus, some tracks you discover in Phase VI may be from comet Wild 2. Note: VM movies that may contain cometary tracks will be labeled “Cometary Movie.” All other VM movies (including Power Movies) will be labeled “Interstellar Movie.” In addition, no Power Movies will be created from scans of the Cometary Collector’s tiles and the new Cometary Movies will in no way influence your Power Score or Skill Score.

Improved Memory of Dusting History: Now, no matter when or how you log-off, the VM will always return the last movie presented to you if you didn’t make a decision on it yet. In this case, decision means clicking on an observed or possible track, clicking “No Track,” or clicking “Bad Focus.”

Notes on Co-Authorship Policy: Now that the ISPE-funded phase of the project is over, any qualified scientist can request and, if approved, do analyses on samples from the Stardust Interstellar Collector (for instance, see: … -available). Therefore, we can no longer guarantee first finders of particles on Stardust@home will be co-authors on all related scientific publications. However, we will connect with our various colleagues around the world whenever possible and do our best to solicit their support in continuing this tradition. In addition, co-authorship for first finders will always apply to published papers from the UC Berkeley team.

New Opportunities for Assisting with Our Research: Finally, please be on the lookout for new opportunities for you to get involved in our research over the next few years. We are currently assessing various alternative contribution methods, including automated Stardust search competitions, as well as completely new investigations. We promise to keep you posted as these initiatives unfold.

On behalf of the entire Stardust@home team, we thank you for all your incredible work over the last seven years and are very much looking forward to continued collaboration! An update on the ISPE-funded investigation will be posted shortly, along with what the team will be looking to achieve in the years ahead. For questions or comments regarding Phase VI, please join the discussion in our Community Forum here.

PS – We will be resetting the “May we send you an occasional email?” and “Would you like to be listed on the top scoring pages?” options in the VM to Yes. You’ll need to visit the My Account page to change these setting.