Thousands of Dutch citizens take part in the first national iSPEX-measure-day

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The first Dutch national iSPEX-measure-day yielded more than 5000 measurements. With this enough data has been gathered to call the iSPEX-measure-day a valid scientific experiment. iSPEX-teamleader Frans Snik is happy with the massive response of the participants, despite the long wait for good weather and dawning summer holiday.

During the day there were two measure moments: one in the morning (at 8:00-10:00 o’clock) and one in the afternoon (at 16.00-18.00 o’clock). During the measure moment in the morning there were so many visits to the live map at www.ispex.nl/kaart, that the servers got overloaded. However, all measurements were collected without any problems. At the end of the day at 18:00 o’clock, the counter was at 4957 measurements.

Map of the iSPEX-measurements at the end of the measure-day on the 8th of July 2013

The next coming months, the data will be analyzed in full detail. After the analysis the measurements by the public will be compared to the aerosol-measurements by scientific equipment. Today, this equipment was set-up at the CESAR-research station at Cabauw, near Lopik. The primary goal of the iSPEX-experiment is to find out how accurate the massive the iSPEX-measurements are, and what kind of additional information about aerosols the measurements can provide. Snik: “Eventually the most important aspect of this project is that thousands of volunteers were able to perform scientific measurements themselves. We are convinced that this kind of citizen science, in which citizens help scientists with there research, has a great future ahead.”

To give all the holidaymakers (and all the students) a chance to also participate, a second national iSPEX-measure-day will be held in September, if the weather is good enough. That is why the participants are asked to keep their iSPEX-unit. Measurements in the meantime are welcome, so as soon as there is a day in the summer with a clear blue sky, people can perform measurements and send these through the App to the central database.

This unique science-project has been made possible because last year, iSPEX (a project by the University of Leiden, NOVA, SRON, KNMI and RIVM) won the Academische Jaarprijs, and thanks to the support of our partners Longfonds, CNG Net, Sanoma en Avantes. The members of the iSPEX-team all work in the development of the use of instrumentation and interpretation-models for researching the Earth, other planets in our solar system and planets orbiting other stars.

Below you will find an animation of the course of the amount of measurements that were done on the first iSPEX- measure-day.

Welcome at iSPEX.nl

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An increasing number of people carries a mobile phone with internet, camera and large computing power. iSPEX, an add-on with complementary app, instantly turns a smartphone into a scientific instrument to measure dust in our atmosphere. The user attaches the add-on on the phone and points it towards blue sky and takes a picture, it is as simple as that. The data is sent automatically to a central database that combines all the measurements with other specialized stations to make a national dust chart. Every iSPEX user will gain awareness to several urgent problems related to dust in our atmosphere, and by means of crowdsourcing everyone can do one’s bit to contribute to solve these problems. The data collected through iSPEX will lead to a better assessment of the health risks due to fine dust particles and whether or not volcanic ash clouds are dangerous for air traffic. It can also contribute to the understanding of the relationship between atmospheric aerosols and climate change.