NASA has invited video gamers and citizen scientists to be part of on virtual ocean research expeditions. With this, the space research agency aims to help map coral reefs worldwide to understand these threatened ecosystems better.
Agency’s NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, since last several years, has come up with technologies that helps to monitor below ocean surfaces. These cameras use complicated calculations to study optical distortions that are created by the water over coral reefs.
The US based agency has positions these instruments on expeditions to Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, other places to collect 3D pictures of the ocean floor. It may be noted that the data alone do not inform the entire story on what happening to the waves, because of which data requires help.
NeMO-Net is a video game where participants classify corals using these 3D pictures while they travel the ocean on their own research vessel. The neural network behind the game, which is also known as NeMO-Net, has been designed by Ames’ Principal investigator Ved Chirayath
“NeMO-Net leverages the most powerful force on this planet: not a fancy camera or a supercomputer, but people,” Chirayath said. He went on to add, “Anyone, even a first grader, can play this game and sort through these data to help us map one of the most beautiful forms of life we know of.”
Players check with the original NASA data on each “dive”, enhancing their information about corals that lie on the shallow ocean floor while pointing out where they appear in the imagery. Players can track their progress, earn badges, go through the game’s field guide, and keep on searching educational videos about life on the sea floor.
The app can be downloaded from Apple App store. It can be played on iOS devices and Mac computers.