A Sneak Peek at the Future of Planet Four

The science team is working on migrating Planet Four to the Zooniverse’s more modern project builder (or panoptes) platform. This is a slow process because things are different in how the newer Zooniverse platform displays images and also we want to take the lessons we’ve learned over the past 6 years and use it to make the web interface even better.  We thought we’d share some screen shots from our work-in-progress prototype.

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The next stage will be getting some images on the site and beta testing the changes we want to make and seeing how well these tweaks do compared to the current Planet Four website/classification interface. This might take a few months, but we’re working hard to have this ready before the end of the year.

In the meantime, we have new images on the original Planet Four website that we are hoping to get classified before the older Zooniverse platform that runs the current Planet Four site is officially retired. We’re trying to make the push in April to get these new images classified. If you can spare a few minutes to classify an image or two on the main Planet Four site, we’d appreciate it.

Exploring Interannual Variability in Manhattan: New Results and New Images on Planet Four

Today we have a post by Candy Hansen, principal investigator (PI) of Planet Four and Planet Four: Terrains.  Candy also serves as the Deputy Principal Investigator for HiRISE (the camera providing the images of spiders, fans, and blotches seen on the original Planet Four project).  Additionally she is a  member of the science team for the Juno mission to Jupiter. She is responsible for the development and operation of  JunoCam, an outreach camera that involves the public in planning images of Jupiter.

We have discovered something very interesting in the number and size of the fans that show up on the south polar seasonal cap every spring, that you are measuring.  It turns out that in springs following both global and regional type A dust storms we see a lot more fans than normal for that time of year.  This picture compares sub-images from 7 Martian years taken in “Manhattan” at solar longitude 195-197.   The position of Mars in its orbit is the solar longitude (“Ls”), and southern spring begins at Ls 180 when the sun crosses the equator and heads south.   Mars years 29, 30 and 33 have visibly more fans.   There was a global dust storm in Mars Year (MY) 28 that started in early summer.  Intense Type A storms, which are regional and centered at high southern latitudes, took place in MY29 and MY32.  It looks like the spring after these storms have large numbers of seasonal fans.

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Although the visual impression is powerful when these images are compared we can go beyond that now, thanks to the Planet Four fan catalog  that your work has populated.  We can quantify the differences. We used the MY29 an MY 30 catalog that we’ve published this year in our first paper, and also newly generated catalogs for Manhattan for MY 28, MY31, MY 32.   Instead of just saying “there are a lot more fans” we can say “there are over twice as many fans” in MY29 and MY30 compared to MY28, 31 and 32.   We do that by querying the catalog – an example is shown below.  The plot below shows numbers of fans as a function of time in the spring and we can compare 5 years at Ls 195.  I had the pleasure of presenting this (your!) work at the 2019 Lunar and Planetary Science conference last week in Houston, Texas.

Manhattan Classic_fan_area_vs_fan_nr_5MY_v3.pngManhattan Classic_fan_nr_vs_ls_5MY_v2.png

To confirm that Type A storms are playing a significant role in the composition of the seasonal ice sheet that produces the carbon dioxide jets that bring up the dust and dirt that create the seasonal fans and blotches, we need to look at the number of seasonal fans and the area covered in MY33.  We only have classifications for Seasons 1-5 of the HiRISE seasonal monitoring campaign (MY28-32). This brings me to my request:  We would really like to have Planet Four measurements for MY33.  We have uploaded the images, so it is ready for you to process.  We would like to thank you in advance for your generosity with your time.   Once those measurements are in we will be ready to write our next paper documenting these findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.  As you know we have published one paper already and two more are in progress.  This is a significant result, and we could not have done this without all of you.

Help classify the new images of Manhattan today at http://www.planetfour.org.

 

 

6 Earth Years of Planet Four

Happy Birthday Planet Four. This month marks 6 years of Planet Four. We couldn’t do any of this without the Planet Four volunteer community.  Thank you for all of your help and contributions. We hope you’re celebrating with a slice of cake or  a serving of Mars pie. The team is really excited for what’s to come next. We’re working hard on follow-up papers to the first fan and blotch catalog release.  We’re also starting preparations to move the project to the Zooniverse’s newer Project Builder Platform.  We’ll keep you posted on all of these efforts right here on the blog. Lots more to come in 2019!

 

Planet Four Talk at the Division for Planetary Sciences

Greetings from Knoxville, Tennessee. Earlier this morning, I presented our first catalog and early results from comparing the fan directions over two Mars years at the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Science meeting.  Here’s my slides.

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New Meridiani Images on Planet Four: Ridges

After a hiatus, Planet Four: Ridges is back! We’ve get the second batch of Meridiani ridges search images live on the site. We’re finding from the analysis of the previous search classifications for regular polygonal ridges, that Planet Four: Ridges volunteers can identify polygonal ridges smaller than contained in previous catalogs. We expect the project can do the same for Meridiani ridges. Dive in today at https;//ridges.planetfour.org and classify an image or two.

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Planet Four: Terrains Tutorial

You might have noticed that in July we added a tutorial to Planet Four: Terrains. After some changes to the front-end part of the Zooniverse platform, the team decided to add  the tutorial.  You’ll find it on the tab next to ‘Task’. There should be some new examples to help guide you while classifying. If you were a fan of the original help button and Spotter’s guide, don’t worry those are still available as well.

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We’re in the middle of going through a new suite of images on the site. Dive in and check out the new tutorial and classify a few images today at http://terrains.planetfour.org.

Planet Four paper accepted!

Dear fellow Planet-Four-ians,

It is my great pleasure to announce that the Icarus journal has accepted our paper “Planet Four: Probing Springtime Winds on Mars by Mapping the Southern Polar CO2 Jet Deposits” for publication!

The edits requested by the reviewers were minor, we addressed what we thought was appropriate for the already huge scope this paper tries to encompass and the editors agreed to our submitted revision. I have also updated the arXiv preprint version with that submitted revision and it is now available in its final “content” form here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.10341. We publicly acknowledge everyone who contributed to the classifications that went into this paper and gave us their permission to use their name on the page https://www.planetfour.org/authors.

We now have entered the phase of typesetting the article where the formatting towards the style of the journal is happening and things like placement of figures is being decided on.

Next in line of activities for Planet Four is waiting for the selection of NASA’s Solar System Workings proposals, where we submitted in spring to receive funding for a deeper exploitation of the results of Planet Four and to use it to guide the creation of a geophysical model of CO2 jets. We expect that the selections are made in the first half of September, according to recent information we have received.

Fingers crossed that we can continue further together on this exciting venture!

Tag an image or two at https://planetfour.org !

New Images on Planet Four: Terrains

We’ve uploaded new images to Planet Four: Terrains this week. This dataset continues to fill in areal coverage to look for spiders outside of the south polar layered deposits and also examining the overall distribution of spiders and other features.

You’ll notice some changes to the look of the classification interface. Over the past several months, the Zooniverse development team has made updates and changes to the classification pages.  This  Zooniverse Talk thread is where you can share your thoughts and feedback on the new look.

Dive in today a http://terrains.planetfour.org

(Southern) Spring is Coming!

Southern Spring is coming to Mars very soon. May 22nd marks the official start of Spring at the Martian South Pole. We’ve been busy reducing the most recent sets of classifications from Planet Four: Terrains looking for new spider locales to target when the HiRISE and CaSSIS seasonal campaign starts. The CaSSIS camera is a recent addition to Mars, aboard the European ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). It takes slightly higher resolution images than the CTX, whose images we show on the Planet Four: Terrains website. CaSSIS is designed for  stereo imaging which is key for measuring depths and heights of features. Also unlike CTX, CaSSIS is equipped with several filters so color images can be made. Even with the addition of CaSSIS,  the decade old HiRISE remains the highest resolution imager  (~30 cm/pixel) in action around the Red Planet.

The PI of Planet Four: Terrains, Candy Hansen is a member of the HiRISE and CaSSIS science teams , and can ask for images to be potentially taken of the Solar Polar region if we find something interesting worthy of followup observations. We’ve asked for a few additional candidate spider locations (plotted below between -70 and -75 degrees latitude) outside of the South Polar Layered Deposits to be imaged if the observations can be squeezed into these cameras’ packed schedules. If confirmed in the higher resolution images, these will be the furthest spider identifications from the South Pole. Fingers crossed we’ll get some more detailed images of these places over the coming months.

 

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Green boxes denote candidate spider/araneiform locations found by Planet Four: Terrains

Thanks for all your help. We plan to have new images on the Planet Four: Terrains site by the start of Southern Spring, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

First publication submitted!

We have finally submitted our first paper for the original Planet Four project to the Icarus journal where it is now officially “Under Review”!

(Above figure is one of the paper where we demonstrate one of the reduction steps to identify noise and create averaged clustered markings. I think it demonstrates well the power of our chosen methodology.)

Thank you to everyone to stay with us for so long without seeing any published results, but I think when you will see the work and care that we put into it, you will understand why it took us so long. One of the reasons was, as we possible mentioned before on this blog, that our Zooniverse project is actually one of the most difficult ones, where we ask all of you to precisely mark objects in the data presented to you. This required a spatial clustering pipeline with a long evaluation and fine-tuning phase.

Which brings me to the point of “see[ing] the work”: we have now managed to have the submitted preprint published on the well known arxiv.org preprint server and you can get your hands on a copy right now! Just click on this link and you will be sent to the arXiv page for our preprint:

https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.10341

Enjoy the (long!) read and don’t shy away to put any questions you have in the comments section below!