PlanetQuest & Distributed Computing
PlanetQuest relies on the combined computing power of millions of computers in order to process astronomical data. In using this innovative approach, commonly called "distributed computing," we rely on a secure, robust series of servers at our central core to handle requests, store data, and track processing results. The actual data processing, however, takes place on participants' computers all over the world, using the Collaboratory. Together, these machines form a massive virtual supercomputer, allowing PlanetQuesters to use our Collaboratory to analyze astronomical data and make new discoveries.
You may be familiar with other distributed computing projects, such as SETI@home. While PlanetQuest shares much in common with SETI@home and similar distributed computing projects, PlanetQuest is also quite different!
- PlanetQuest makes you the astronomer. We send you the raw data, but you make the discoveries and receive credit for them. The PlanetQuest Collaboratory will list your newly classified stars, potentially detected planets, and other discoveries in our central PlanetQuest Discoveries Catalog, and we give you the credit for what you've found. You will be making new scientific discoveries and will be contributing directly to cutting-edge astronomical research.
- Want to learn more about science, astronomy, mathematics? The resources are a click away in your PlanetQuest Collaboratory. You choose how deeply you want to explore—from introductory lessons to cutting-edge academic articles and multimedia content. Learn at your own level and pace—and take your understanding as far as you would like.
- Meet other people around the world interested in space exploration, astronomy, and science.
- Got a question? Ask our experts!
- PlanetQuest software is a virtual astronomy lab on your computer, allowing you to run a variety of experiments on a given star target. Or you can choose to let PlanetQuest make all the decisions for you automatically.
- Have your own telescope? Export your PlanetQuest stars' coordinates and view at home. Have a star party with your friends—they'll be as excited as you are!
The BOINC Approach
PlanetQuest implements the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) as our basic distributed computing platform. BOINC is open source, robust, secure, fault-tolerant, and well-designed. We actively contribute to the BOINC project. For those interested in additional information, see the main BOINC pages.