While you're out and about this weekend, see if you can get some snaps of cloud formations with your smartphone – Nasa needs your help in logging the various cloud cover formations and weather patterns as clouds of different types pass overhead.
The appeal for extra data is part of the GLOBE (or Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) program, and additional pictures will help Nasa identify the types of cloud cover it's seeing in its satellite imagery. You don't need any previous weather spotting experience to take part, and you can submit up to 10 pictures a day.
"The GLOBE Program is offering this challenge to show people how important it is to Nasa to have citizen scientist observations; observations from the ground up," says Nasa's Marilé Colón Robles. "We’re going from winter to spring, so the types of storms will change, which will also change the types of clouds."
Unless you're an experienced data entry enthusiast, you're going to need the GLOBE app for Android and iOS – this guides you through the process of snapping cloud formations for scientific research, which is basically as simple as pointing your camera at the sky.
Cloud pictures can be posted between March 15 and April 15, and the citizen scientist who logs the most imagery is going to be highlighted in a video posted on the project website and social media – so that's another reason to put your smartphone camera to good use over the next month or so.
The pictures collected by users on the ground can be vital in identifying different types of clouds as they pass overhead, and tracking weather and climate systems, according to Nasa. "Just go outside," is the advice from Colón Robles if you're not sure your data is going to be useful.