Train NASA’s supercomputer by playing an underwater voyage iPhone game


NASA's game looks basic, but it does a world of good.
Photo: NASA

NASA needs your help on its mission to save the planet’s coral reefs. The US space agency created a new video game for iPhone, iPad and Mac that sets players off on an underwater voyage to map coral reefs around the world.

Dubbed NeMO-Net, NASA’s game uses real 3D imaging data obtained during recent drone flybys in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and elsewhere. Players set off in their own ship, the Nautilus, and scan the ocean floors identifying and classifying different corals.

“NeMO-Net leverages the most powerful force on this planet: not a fancy camera or a supercomputer, but people,” said NASA’s Ved Chirayath. “Anyone, even a first-grader, can play this game and sort through these data to help us map one of the most beautiful forms of life we know of.”

The game is broken up into “dives” where players learn about different corals and see where they appear on the shallow ocean floors. You can earn badges for completing missions. There are also a bunch of educational videos about sea life and a field guide to keep you busy.

All of the data that is analyzed by platers is then used to train NASA’s supercomputer Pleiades at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. NASA hopes to be able to train Pleiades to recognize corals from images taken by less powerful instruments. The more people that play the game, the better Pleiades will get at classifying corals. This will in turn help NASA map out corals across the world in unprecedented detail.

NeMO-Net can currently be downloaded for iOS. It’s supposed to be available on Mac but we couldn’t find it in the Mac App Store. Android fans are also left in the cold but it should be coming to Google Play in the future.


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