It seems everything has science in it these days. You can't even enjoy the simple pleasure of eating an apple without some Frankenstein telling you that actually, apples are made of science. Get back to your chalkboard, nerd. Even space isn't safe from science! Spaceship MMO EVE Online [official site] is bringing back its "citizen science" scheme Project Discovery, this time using real astronomical data to help find actual exoplanets. It's probably more a minigame than any sort of virtual exploration, to be clear, but that's science for you: less glamorous than it initially sounds.
The first Eve Discovery project, in 2016, let players classify pictures of human cells in a minigame to win virtuacash and credits. CCP say that it saw players submit over 25 million classifications submitted for the research of the Human Protein Atlas.
As for this second project, CCP say:
"Within EVE's virtual universe, players will interact with real-world astronomical data provided by the University of Geneva through a fully integrated part of the EVE Online game experience called Project Discovery. Once enough players reach comparative consensus on classification of the data, it will be sent back to the University of Geneva for use in refining the search for exoplanets."
CCP say this'll launch some time this year. They'll say more about it at the EVE Fanfest in early April so, er, after that at least.
EVE being a game with plenty of idle time, it might be fun to have a poke at for a bit. I'm guessing it'll be another case of analysing images looking for specific shapes, patterns, signals, and whatnot. Perhaps a bit like Planet Hunters, where you can poke at data from NASA's Kepler observatory to identify potential planets. Humans aren't good for much anymore but we are sometimes better at pattern recognition than machines.