Archive | March 2016

Macclesfield (informally) on Mars

Thanks to everyone who voted in our poll to nickname the next target region of Planet Four. After 406 votes cast, you can see the final tallied results for yourself below.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.27.34 AM

After a tight race with Potsdam, Macclesfield has emerged victorious and will be the chosen informal name that we will use from now on to refer to the HiRISE target  located at -85.4  degrees N Latitude and 103.9 degrees East Longitude.  Below is a view of the newly nicknamed region. Note that this is an informal name for the area on the Martian South Pole. We’ll use the name internally within Planet Four and to refer to it in publications, but this name has not been adopted as the location’s formal name by the International Astronomy Union. We have updated the text in the current Planet Four  paper draft to reflect the new nickname.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona - http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_020242_0945

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona – http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_020242_0945

The Earthly version of Macclesfield is the home to Jodrell Bank Observatory located on the outskirts of the town. Jodrell  Bank is home to the large Lovell Telescope (currently the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world)  and  BBC Stargazing Live, which is broadcast live yearly from outside of Macclesfield. Planet Four launched on BBC Stargazing Live on January 2013. The name was suggested as an homage to the launch of Planet Four and BBC Stargazing Live.

 

Lovell Telescope (animation credit: Zooniverse )

Lovell Telescope (animation credit: Zooniverse) – Original image source

Season 1 images from the new crowned  Martian  Macclesfield are live on the original Planet Four right now.Classify fans and blotches in Macclesfield at  www.planetfour.org

 

 

 

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Brand New Images on Planet Four: Terrains

We’ve been finding interesting regions thanks to your classifications and your Planet Four: Terrains Talk comments. We’ll soon be start preparing for the upcoming HiRISE seasonal monitoring campaign and selecting our final list of new targets for HiRISE. The Sun will be fully above the horizon of the  Martian South Pole and conditions will be favorable for imaging sometime around July, so we need to get started very soon.  The excellent news is that  thanks to your help, we’ve completed the original set of CTX images that we had planned for the project. Here’s where on the coverage of the  CTX images that we selected and you’ve been classifying since June.

CTX coverage with MOLA elevation map (Courtesy of JMARS )

CTX (Context Camera) image coverage in cyan with MOLA elevation map (Red is higher elevation) (Courtesy of JMARS )

The even more exciting news is that we’re extending the project and have uploaded a new set of CTX images to the website! Looking at the preliminary analysis of your classifications, we’re seeing interesting patterns in the distributions of spiders, baby spiders, and swiss cheese terrain. We want to investigate this further by covering more of the South Pole that we hadn’t looked at already. These CTX  images have never before been looked at by human eyes in such detail before. There are bound to be something interesting, and if so we will still have time to add the region to our HiRISE target list.

Here’s a comparison of the location of the new CTX  images in dark blue compared to the our first set of observations on the reviewed on the site in cyan.

CTX coverage with MOLA elevation map (Courtesy of JMARS ) Blue = coverage of new images just uploaded Cyan = locations of previous images classified

CTX coverage with MOLA elevation map (Courtesy of JMARS ) Blue = coverage of new images just uploaded Cyan = locations of previous images classified

Help search the new CTX  images or spiders, swiss cheese terrain, and more by classifying an image or two at http://terrains.planetfour.org

10 Years in Martian Orbit for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Yesterday marked a decade since Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) went into orbit around the Red Planet. A few months later science observations commenced, and since then the mission has been studying the Martian surface and atmosphere. We use MRO data on both Planet Four (HiRISE [HIgh Resolution Imaging Science Experiment] images) and Planet Four: Terrains (Context Camera [CTX]  images). Thanks to the contributions of those at NASA and the instrument teams (including engineers, scientists, software programmers, and other operations support  team members) who make these observations happen and keep the spacecraft and its suite of instruments happy and healthy.

With 10 Earth years (or ~5 Mars years) of observations, we can look for long term changes in the geyser formation process, and this summer we’ll be pointing HiRISE to new regions of the South Pole thanks to the contributions from Planet  Four: Terrains volunteers for monitoring for several more Mars years.

Below is a highlight reel compiled by NASA of MRO’s greatest science hits and images over the last decade.

There have been so many iconic moments from the MRO’s mission, but I think two moments are HIRISE capturing the descent stage of the the Curiosity rover with the parachute and the parachute of the Phoenix lander several years before.

Image Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona http://www.uahirise.org/releases/msl-descent.php

HiRISE captures the descent of NASA’s Curiosity rover Image Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona http://www.uahirise.org/releases/msl-descent.php

 

Image Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Parachute of the Phoenix lander snapped by HiRISE during the entry, landing, and descent of the polar lander – Image Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona – original image

Happy Anniversary MRO! – Here’s to the next decade around Mars! Celebrate by classifying a few images on Planet Four and Planet Four: Terrains

Vote for the Informal Nickname of the Next Planet Four Target Region

Image credit: http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_020716_0945 NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Image credit: http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_020716_0945 NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Thanks to your help, we’re nearly through all the Season 1 images of the regions informally nicknamed ‘Giza’ and ‘Ithaca’ on Planet Four. It means we’ll be moving on to another region of the south pole to complete its Season 1 observations. We’ve selected a region that has no internal nickname that we refer to it by. It has been captioned previously in public releases as ‘Possible Geyser Activity’ or ‘Geysers have been putatively spotted here.’ That’s quite a mouthful, and we use the informal names to talk about the region in blog posts and in discussions among the science team and on Talk.  The previous nicknames we’ve used are ones inherited from the HiIRSE seasonal monitoring campaign, but here’s your chance to give input. Members of the Planet Four and  Zooniverse teams have come up with nickname  suggestions which you get to vote on (see below).  Note – These names are all unofficial and not formal International Astronomical Union approved names for those regions on Mars. They’re informal and help us with the record keeping.

The site is located at -85.4  degrees N Latitude and 103.9 degrees East Longitude.  You can get a sense of the area with this full frame HiRISE image. As most of the South Pole monitoring campaign nicknames are towns or cities or parts of cities on the Earth, we have decided to continue that theme for this region. Here’s the informal nicknames options you can vote for:

1. Potsdam –  Suggested by Candy Hansen (Planet Four PI) – Generally the HiRISE seasonal polar monitoring campaign has used New York regions for the informal region names. (like ‘Ithaca’ and ‘Manhattan’).  Postdam, USA is in the state of New York, and  I have a friend that grew up there.

2. Wellington – Suggested by John Keegan  (Planet Four Talk Moderator) – Known as the windiest and most southerly capital city in the world. It has an annual average windspeed around 16 knots/hr (18 miles/hr). Wellington is located in what is known as a River of Wind, between the South and North Islands of New Zealand.
 
3. Chicago – Suggested by Andy Martin (Planet Four Talk Moderator) – The windy city, Chicago, USA because of the number of wind directions we see.

4. Oxford – Suggested by Grant Miller (Zooniverse Communications Lead) – Oxford, UK is the birthplace and home town of the Zooniverse and therefore in turn the Planet Four project.

5.  Calistoga –  Suggested by  Michael Parrish (Zooniverse developer who built Planet Four Talk ) – Calistoga, USA is the home of  “Little Old Faithful” (also known as the Old Faithful of California). artificial geyser/erupting geothermal well

6.  Macclesfield – Suggested by Meg Schwamb (Planet Four Scientist) – Planet Four launched at BBC Stargazing Live in 2013 at Jodrell Bank. Macclesfield, UK is the name of the town the telescope is on the outskirts of.

 Vote by March 15th. 

**Note** – This vote is to help select the  nickname for a region on the south pole of Mars.  This is unofficial and not  a formal International Astronomical Union approved naming process for this region on Mars. The name is informal and helps us with the record keeping only.