The making of…

This post is the first in a series on the Making of CosmoQuest.
A Table of Contents for this series is at the end of the post.


CosmoQuest was envisioned in 2011 with a singular goal: to create a place where people of all backgrounds can learn and do science together in a virtual research community.  In the intervening years, we’ve worked hard and we’ve worked creatively to to make this goal a reality. This website that you’re visiting is our result; while we know we still have a long way to go, we are proud of what we’ve created. This is your (still under-construction) home for learning and doing science.

CosmoQuest is a broad partnership of volunteers and staff from numerous organizations. Our initial funding model was to seek federal grants to cover our science and education endeavors while asking for donations and sponsorships to cover our media production costs. That worked well until March 2013 when vast funding changes swept through astronomy and space science. Now, as we strive to continue running towards our goal, we must change our strategies and take a more commercial approach to what we do and seek new forms of funding.

We know we need help if we want to succeed: most of us are academics with little understanding of finance and a desire to make everything we do publicly available for free. This means the whole “making money” concept is one that we struggle with. We need your help – your input, ideas, and advice – to define a model that will sustain us into the future. As part of asking for your help, we’re going to take the time to detail what we are doing (and by we, I mean all the partners that currently make up CosmoQuest), and what we dream of doing in the future. This includes goals, sustainability plans, and budget information. We want your informed input – how can we do things more sustainably as we move into the future?

Our goal remains the same: we are and will continue to be a virtual research facility designed to facilitate public-professional collaborations while providing the public the same types of learning and professional development experiences that academic scientists and their students enjoy. We are a second generation citizen science site that goes beyond asking for people to complete tasks that benefit scientists, to instead asking people to become our peers through education and experience participating in science projects.

There is a lot of information here, and we’ve done our best to organize it thematically. This is the story of CosmoQuest as seen from the inside by the entire team, and it’s written by many hands. Think of it as CosmoQuest telling you her story, her dreams, and her goals, and hoping you get interested enough to drop her a note and say “Hey Pretty Science Site, can we get together to learn and do some science?”

You can read this document in its entirety by downloading the PDF below, or you can step through it on this website. As always, we’re here to listen at


Dr. Pamela L. Gay
Principal Investigator, CosmoQuest

Table of Contents

  1. The Origins of CosmoQuest
  2. Doing Science
  3. Learning Science
  4. Post-Sequestion: The Thin Years (coming soon)