Volunteer scientists discover two possible planets, tell NASA it missed a spot

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Proving it's not all about edu-mah-cation, a group of casual star-gazers has stumbled upon what might well be a pair of new planets. Following on from gamers' success with complicated medical puzzles, an army of 40,000 online volunteer astronomy nerds signed up to the Planet Hunters project to help mine through NASA data. One of the possible planets they discovered is roughly two and a half times the size of Earth, while the other a whopping eight times bigger than this revolving ball of blue and green we call home. The project uses data from NASA's Kepler telescope, which registers fluctuations in brightness as objects pass in front of distant stars -- a setup that's helped scientists discover 1,235 potential alien planets in its first four months. Obviously, though, the technology isn't perfect, which is where the project's muggle volunteers (assisted by Oxford and University of Chicago researchers) come in. They've been combing through NASA's readings and are now sifting through the next 90 days of Kepler observations.

[Image credit: NASA]

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