This is clever: scientists will leverage the hundreds-of-thousands-strong Eve Online community to collectively analyse actual astronomical data, helping in the search for exoplanets - planets outside our solar system. You read about NASA's exoplanet discovery right?
Exactly how players will help isn't revealed, but Eve Online has worked with the Massively Multiplayer Online Science platform before, the community providing millions of classifications of human cells for the Human Protein Atlas - a success way beyond expectations.
Those human cell classifications were done via an Eve Online mini-game, where players dyed and matched cells to provided examples. This was all done in a lore-sympathetic way as part of a story about analysing DNA for a mysterious Drifter organisation. In six weeks the protein mini-game had been played, collectively, for more than 16 million minutes, according to a Wired article. What a resource!
Fitting an exoplanet data hunt into Eve Online - a bloomin' space game - should be even easier. More information will be announced at Eve Fanfest in April, in a presentation by Michel Mayor, the award-winning Swiss astrophysicist whose team discovered the first exoplanet.