Archeologists and the passionate public have been offered a new tool. GlobalXplorer is a new crowd-sourcing project which aims to discover new sites. And also help protect existing ones.
GlobalXplorer is a new archeology website. Its databases currently contain hundreds of thousands of satellite images. These were mostly gathered through the DigitalGlobe system. And they mostly target Peru.
Users can access the images. But perhaps even more importantly, they will be able to interact with them. They will be able to manipulate the photos according to need. Areas can be either highlighted or obscured. These features have a number of practical uses.
They can either help discover new archeological sites. Or they may help protect existing ones. The protection comes from the multiple sets of eyes trained on them.
Through the photo manipulation, users can check for signs of potential looting. Or they could detect new constructions. These can harm the archeological digs and relics.
Users can also discover new such elements. By interacting with the vegetation, they could spot unusual formations. Further research could unearth new ancient structures, if lucky.
GlobalXplorer was launched quite recently. It is the idea of Dr. Sarah Parcak. An archeologist, she is also the 2016 TED Prize winner. And also a National Geographic Fellow.
According to Parcak, GlobalXplorer is “her wish for the world”. The online platform could become an important tool. It could help open up the wonder of discovery to all those passionate about it. It may also help humanity found out more about its past. And also understand our connection to it.
GlobalXplorer is based on crowdsourcing. It relies on the public to analyze the data. Interested members will gain access to the incredible satellite images. These are the same photos currently available to archeologists.
And the system seems to be working already. According to reports, Parcak’s techniques have revealed new sites. They drew attention to about 17 possible pyramid sites. And spotted 1,000 potential Egyptian tombs, previously lost.
The techniques may have also potentially unearthed 3,100 forgotten settlements. It may have also revealed new Viking world traces. And also knowledge on the ancient Roman Empire.
But GlobalXplorer is not only targeting archeological sites. It is also looking up to the sky. Galaxy Zoo is another platform contribution. This is also a crowdsourcing project. It offers scientists and space enthusiast alike access to the galaxies.
The images were taken as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Now, interested parties can help classify the finds. They can place a galaxy in its appropriate type.
GlobalXplorer is structured quite as a game. Users will progress as they get more practice. They will be able to better use the system. And as they progress, they will get access to new content. Such exclusive content will include varied sources. It may feature videos or conferences.
Parcak released a recent statement on the matter. On January 30, she held a press conference. During it, she stated the wish to attract “superusers”. These are very active users. The website will try to increase their numbers. It will also be looking to decrease the number of infrequent users. Or to combat to leave the project.
GlobalXplorer is a unique initiative. Even Parcak stated that she is unsure of its future success. Peru is just the first country to be added to the platform. A second one could be added sometime this year.
Users will be kept informed of the archeological site’s development. The participants will also be receiving real-time information. In case the new sites are confirmed, they will be further studied by attested authorities.
The GlobalXplorer images should also ensure the sites’ security from potential digital looters. GPS data and other identifying information have been removed. This was done so as to protect the locations.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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