NASA is inviting gamers and “citizen scientists” to play its new NeMo-Net video game to help map coral reefs across the globe. In this virtual ocean expedition, players can identify and classify corals using three-dimensional images while digitally canvassing the ocean on their own research vessel, the Nautilus.
NASA’s Principal investigator Ved Chirayath developed the neural network behind the game which will glean player inputs and activities to construct a global coral map that will help in the organization’s efforts to better understand these endangered ecosystems.
“NeMO-Net leverages the most powerful force on this planet: not a fancy camera or a supercomputer, but people,” said Chirayath. “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.”
Aboard Nautilus, players can track their progress, earn badges, and peruse the game’s field guide, and access educational videos to learn about diverse types of coral on the seafloor. As they play the game, player activities help train NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer at Ames to identify corals from any visual of the ocean floor.
“The more people who play NeMO-NET, the better the supercomputer’s mapping abilities become. Once it has been able to accurately classify corals from low-resolution data included in the game, the supercomputer will be able to map out the world’s corals at an unprecedented resolution,” said NASA in a statement. “With that map, scientists will better understand what is happening to corals and find ways to preserve them.
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