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The search for planets outside our solar system comes to EVE Online.

This week saw the news that seven planets have been found orbiting a single star, 40 light years from Earth. Three of the planets, called exoplanets, are located in a habitable zone, the conditions of which allow the for possibility of water and perhaps, by extension, life.

Discovering new planets is not the sole preserve of astronomers and scientists, however. CCP Games have announced that players of EVE Online will be able to do their bit through a scientific crowdsourcing programme run by Massively Multiplayer Online Science, the University of Reykjavik, the University of Geneva, and its honorary professor, Michel Mayor. Mayor was the winner of the 2017 Wolf Prize for Physics and discovered the first exoplanet, 51 Pegasi b, in 1995.

EVE Online players will be able to interact with real-world astronomical data in-game that has been provided by the University of Geneva through the Project Discovery initiative. If enough players reach a comparative consensus on the classification of the data they find, it will be sent to the University of Geneva for use in their continuing search to find strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations. The initiative will launch later this year.

Andie Nordgren, EVE’s Executive Producer, said:

“We were thrilled to see the successes of our first foray into citizen science, in which EVE players have been voracious contributors to the database of the Human Protein Atlas. In searching for the next dataset for our massive player community to tackle, the stars aligned for players to have the opportunity to directly contribute to the search for new planets with a world-renowned scientific team. Real people around the world collaborating in a virtual universe to explore the real universe is the stuff science fiction, and soon science fact, is made of.”

The previous iteration of Project Discovery saw players submit over 25 million classifications of human cells back to the Human Protein Atlas.

Michel Mayor will speak more about the search for exoplanets – and the role of EVE Online – at EVE Fanfest 2017, which runs from April 6-8 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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