National Science Foundation
Citizen scientists are helping to improve scientists' understanding of how Earth works by collecting statistics and observations that full-time scientists don't have the people power and other resources to gather.
Some citizen-science programs take volunteers under their wings and into the field to gatherdata. Others, such as theÂ Quake-Catcher Network (QCN), are more of the "hands-free" genre, only requiring volunteers to connect their computers to networks that do the data collection and analysis.
QCN is a collaborative effort among five academic institutions, plus the U.S. Geological Survey. Partially funded by the National Science Foundation, the QCN organizes volunteers who each host a low-cost vibration sensor on an Internet-connected desktop or laptop computer. The home-based stations automatically send QCN servers information in real time about ground tremors related to moderate-to-large earthquakes.