CCP Games' Second 'Project Discovery' Aims To Find Exoplanets

The search for planets outside our solar system comes to EVE Online. CCP's announcement of the event comes hot off the heels of NASA's earlier announcement today that its Spitzer Space Telescope found seven Earth-sized planets (three of which are within the "habitable zone") orbiting a single star called TRAPPIST-1.

Almost a year ago, CCP Games announced Project Discovery, a program within EVE Online that enlisted the help of its large player base to analyze real-world protein patterns in order to improve the Human Protein Atlas.

Sadly it's not quite as simple as us having built thousands of actual spaceships we'll now be flying around the galaxy.

Project Discovery, in both this and its previous form, offers a powerful look at how developers and players alike are able to use video games as a useful tool for scientific research, even through something as small as a minigame.

One way exoplanets are discovered is the transit method, in which scientists observe changes in light emanating from stars when planets pass in front of them.

For the moment, EVE Online seems to be the best place for wannabe-space-explorers to indulge in fantasy while simultaneously making real-world astronomical discoveries.

EVE Online did not announce when the new citizen science project will be implemented into the game but more information will be presented by Mayor at EVE Fanfest in April. Eve players are rewarded for examining this data and classifying it, and the expectation is that over time a consensus will form regarding whether or not certain astronomical anomalies are exoplanets or something else.

Exactly how players will help isn't revealed, but Eve Online has worked with the Massively Multiplayer Online Science platform before, the community providing millions of classifications of human cells for the Human Protein Atlas - a success way beyond expectations. "Real people around the world collaborating in a virtual universe to explore the real universe is the stuff science fiction, and soon science fact, is made of".

  • Carolyn Briggs