Citizen scientists invited to help label ISS images

Get ready to study some pictures like a true detective.
By | Published: September 29, 2017 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

Citizen scientists – and that means you – can help label photographs from the International Space Station. Astronauts aboard the ISS are tasked with taking photos of Earth’s land surface, oceans, and atmosphere, as well as pictures of solar system bodies.


Now CosmoQuest’s Image Detective, a NASA-funded citizen science project, is asking citizen scientists from around the world help to label these images. Dr. Jennifer Grier, a Senior Scientist and Senior Education and Communication Specialist at Planetary Science Institute (PSI) and CosmoQuest’s lead support scientist, said getting multiple eyes and minds to look over the images will make the process more efficient.


“This is a unique, powerful, and beautiful image data set that has already yielded excellent research science. But the data set needs the many eyes and minds of citizen scientists to reach its full potential as a publicly available, searchable catalog,” Grier said in a press release.


Dr. Pamela L. Gay from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific said the images need to become searchable, but they need to be sorted through, labeled, and analyzed before that can happen. The citizen scientists will help to sort through more than 1.5 million photos and label features from erupting volcanoes to seasonal changes in the landscape.


“With the additions that citizen scientists as detectives can make, professional research scientists will be able to conduct more research into our changing world, and do so much more effectively,” Grier said.


Become a part of the Image Detective team by going to and labeling images.