This is EXACTLY the kind of crowdfunding project I love. FIND AN ALIEN MOON! It's not a comic, or a video game on Kickstarter--this is FOR REAL.
To date, there are more than 700 confirmed exoplanets (as of this writing)--but none of them yet have an identifiable moon. Researchers at the University of Cambridge are hoping to use the Kepler Telescope to find the first. The astronomers heading this search are using Petridish.org (think Kickstarter for science) to crowdfund their project.
In order to study exomoons, we will need to use Kepler telescope data. The Kepler looks at stars and takes photos every hour, searching for changes in the brightness of each star. The dimming of a star correlates with the passing of a planet or moon in front of it. Further, because planets and moons orbit around each other, the gravitational tug of the moon causes the planets to wobble. We can detect that wobbling motion and use those clues to know that a moon is there.They're two-thirds the way there already, but they need help to reach their goal. In case you're wondering, I backed it myself--I only blog about projects I personally back.
To analyze all of the Kepler data, we need a small supercomputer working 24 hours a day to sift through the data. This supercomputer, like most technology, comes at a high cost, so we would be unable to make strides in this research arena without the private support of $10,000.
With all the creative projects out there, it's great to see something that could really change our world and the way we view the universe. Petridish has plenty of other great projects to back as well.
THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO BOLDLY GO!
Now, who wants to start the first crowdfunder to build one of these?