Fireballs in the Sky (FITS)
Fireballs in the Sky (FITS) is a citizen science initiative that provides a way for the public, particularly those of West and South Australia, to work alongside research scientists studying meteorites. The focus of the project is to improve the people's understandings of planetary science research and enhance their attitudes to science.
Here, an emphasis will be placed on the people being included in the research process, improving their scientific literacy. It is an innovative program because it involves the public in authentic science research activities and will engage Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in remote and regional areas of Western Australia and South Australia. The project will be delivered by Curtin University.
Underpinning the Fireballs in the Sky (FITS) project is the Meteorite Fireballs – Illuminating the Origins of the Solar System (MFIOSS) research program led by ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor Phil Bland of Curtin University. It uses cameras, the Desert Fireball Network, to capture images of incoming meteorites. In 2007, a meteorite was the first specimen to have its origin determined – a ground breaking event in planetary science.
The website research portal will be an important component of FITS. It will be accessible across Australia, and with advances of the NBN, allow for video streaming and webinars. Further, it will encourage the public to participate in the research by providing information about "shooting stars" or meteorites, and information about "meteor like" rocks that they have found by uploading images for discussion. The website provides a way for people to input data about an observed meteorite, and the data will be pushed into a citizen science database, and integrated into the research data captured by the camera network. Social media networks, for example, Twitter and Facebook, will integrate distributing information to participants, and a smartphone application, allowing accurate time and GPS data, developed to feed field observations.
Activities will be partnered with agencies in regional cities and towns and Indigenous communities. for example, the Kalgoorlie Visitor Centre. Some activities will focus on the sharing of Indigenous knowledge about meteorites, and this knowledge will be uploaded to the website as way to develop cultural awareness and a scientifically engaged Australia, especially Indigenous people. Other events will focus on astronomy evenings for families and will be concurrent with local events and festivals.