Usually it takes years of study to become an archaeologist—four years of reading books and a few more learning in the field before you finally get to play in the dirt professionally. Sarah Parcak wants to get that down to a few minutes. Parcak is a space archaeologist, which means she spends her days looking for buried archaeological sites in high resolution imagery. It’s a technical job: Parcak, who teaches at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has a PhD, and so do most of her archaeology colleagues. But Parcak believes that finding and protecting all of Earth’s hidden gems is going to take more than just professionally-trained scientists.
So today, Parcak is launching GlobalXplorer, an online platform that will teach anyone with a computer and an internet connection how to spot archaeological sites in satellite imagery. Parcak first outlined her plans for the platform last year at TED, explaining that the most time-consuming part of her job was scouring thousands of square miles of satellite imagery for visual anomalies on Earth’s surface. Crowdsourcing that process, she hopes, will allow professional archaeologists to speed up the discovery process. Read more.