NASA Creates Video Game that Can Map Out the World’s Coral Reefs

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NASA has created NeMO-Net, or the Neural Multi-Modal Observation and Training Network, a video game that enables players to map out the world’s coral reefs. In NeMO-Net, gamers can virtually board the Nautilus, the game’s research vessel, and travel into the ocean’s depths to identify and classify all the corals they encounter. Players can check their progress and earn badges in the game. They can also access a field guide and educational videos. Currently, users can play the game on iOS devices and Mac computers for free, but a release for Android devices is also in the works. According to NASA, the game was created after scientists spent a number of years canvassing the world’s oceans. Using special instruments, NASA gathered 3D images of the ocean floor during expeditions to different places around the world. These images include photographs of corals, seagrass, and algae. The space agency decided to enlist the help of everyday people in sorting the sheer amount of data and images collected. As players continue playing the game, their actions train NASA’s supercomputer to identify corals on its own. Once the supercomputer can accurately identify corals, it will be able to keep track of the world’s corals at an unprecedented rate. The final map that will be created through the game will extend over 65,000 square kilometers of corals. Through this initiative, NASA can better monitor the changes in coral populations. In turn, scientists will gain a deeper understanding of corals. This knowledge can pave the way for action plans that can save the corals.

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