Solar Stormwatch website

Solar Stormwatch

Solar Stormwatch is an interactive citizen science website that gives visitors the opportunity to discover more about and get actively involved in the latest scientific research into the Sun and how its activity affects us on Earth. Created in partnership with the University of Oxford’s GalaxyZoo team, the interface uses near real-time videos from NASA's STEREO spacecraft.

Members who register and join Solar Stormwatch can analyse data from STEREO by spotting and tracking storms in a Flash interface. The collective results from members will create an advanced user-generated space weather forecast – the first of its kind – to warn astronauts and aurora spotters of upcoming events. The site also aims to explain how science happens, with background information encouraging visitors to get involved.

The site was given a modern design to avoid the cliched "black space" look and feel. The site had to be welcoming and surface engaging background context to encourage public analysis of data-sets from STEREO. Detailed user flows were created for the data analysis and these were refined as the project developed and user testing was performed, to provide a rewarding user experience.

The website won a Museums and the Web 2010 Best of the Web Award in the Innovation/Experimental category. The MW2010 panel said, "excellent use of crowd sourcing to advance scientific discovery", "makes excellent use of existing resources, such as Flickr" and "draws you in, step-by-step".

Who

Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Responsibilities

Wireframes
IA
User flows
UI design

Where

www.solarstormwatch.com

Date

September–December 2009