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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
The science team is working on ticking off the last things on the todo list before we can submit the first Planet Four paper. Michael is in the last stages of making edits and changes to the paper draft. We’re nearly over the finish line. While Michael has been working hard on the manuscript text and catalog files, we’ve also been iterating on some changes to the figure Anya made that shows all the locations making up the Seasons 2 and 3 monitoring campaign that are part of our fan and blotch catalogs based on your classifications. I thought I would share some of the versions Anya made:
It’s really exciting to think back to when this project started in 2013 and now see this plot, where I can say we have fan and blotch identifications for HiRISE images taken in Season 2 and 3 Southern Spring/Summer for all of these plotted points.
Today we have a guest blog by JPL research scientist Laura Kerber, our lead researcher on Planet Four: Ridges. Laura studies physical volcanology, aeolian geomorphology, wind over complex surfaces, and the ancient Martian climate.
Dear Ridge Hunters,
Can you believe that it has been a year since we started to hunt for ridges??? We have accomplished a great deal in the space of a year! With 7,784 volunteers, we have made 135,976 classifications! We finished our first region (parts of Deuteronilus Mensae), second region (Protonilus Mensae) and third region (Nili Fossae)! We are now working on our fourth batch of images—from a new region in Meridiani Planum, closer to the currently operating Opportunity rover. Mapping our first three regions allowed us to understand the distribution of Nili-like ridges close to two of the Mars2020 rover candidate landing sites, and allowed us to see what sorts of geologic units were associated with the ridges. We found out that the ridge-bearing units are often buried units, and that polygonal ridges were almost never found in glacial terrain. There also wasn’t a strong correlation between craters and ridge networks. There was a strong correlation, however, between ridge units and ancient terrain from Mars’ oldest geological period, the Noachian. As its name suggests, the Noachian was a time when water was abundant on the surface of Mars. Our ridge discoveries suggest that the subsurface was also the site of extensive water-related processes. Since the subsurface would have also been protected from harmful UV rays, this watery environment could have been an interesting place to foster life.
Here is a map showing the ridges that were known before this project (green) and the enormous number of ridges in fine detail that we mapped throughout Nili Fossae (red):
But wait! There’s more! Intrepid ridge-hunter @bluemagi ventured outside of the Zooniverse-defined regions and is currently conducting a planet-wide search for more ridge-bearing regions. Here’s a map of the simply astonishing findings of @bluemagi across the rest of the planet (added in blue), which were transformed into an amazing .kmz file for Google Earth by @frognal! Check out their handiwork here and see if you agree with @bluemagi’s interpretations!
Thanks everyone, for a year full of amazing surprises in Planet Four: Ridges. Here’s to another year of exploring the planet Mars together!
Today we have a post by Dr. Candice (Candy) Hansen, principal investigator (PI) of Planet Four and Planet Four: Terrains. Dr. Hansen also serves as the Deputy Principal Investigator for HiRISE (the camera providing the images of spiders, fans, and blotches seen on the site). She is also a Co-Investigator on the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph on the Cassini spacecraft that orbited around Saturn until the end of its mission last year. Additionally she is a member of the science team for the Juno mission to Jupiter. Dr. Hansen is responsible for the development and operation of JunoCam, an outreach camera that will involve the public in planning images of Jupiter.
Last week marked the 5th anniversary of Planet Four’s launch. Five years ago, I was sitting in a meeting only partly paying attention. I was focused on the brand new Planet Four website – it had just gone live and took off like a rocket. I kept hitting refresh, enjoying each of the new introductions in the “Hello Everyone!” chat.
Now we have a community. When I lurk (which I still love to do) I recognize the names – Pete J, wassock, Kitharode, angi60, p.titchin, …. My heartfelt thanks go to Meg Schwamb for engaging with our citizen scientists on a regular basis!
Five years on you have measured fans and blotches in over 5 million HiRISE image cutouts. We’ve applied statistical analysis and turned that into a catalog. We can now query the catalog (where is the longest fan? Which way is the wind blowing in Manhattan at the beginning of spring?) We are very close to submitting our first paper describing the catalog with samples of potential results that can be pulled from it. The second paper is already shaping up with comprehensive results for wind directions throughout spring – these results are the gold we were hoping for when we started this citizen science project. The vision we had in the beginning is now coming true.
Right now we use models to understand Mars’ meteorology. In order to test the models we need data – wind markers. The atmospheric modeling scientists are very excited about seeing our results – results we wouldn’t have without your efforts! Thank you as always for your generosity with your time!!
Today we have a guest blog by JPL research scientist Laura Kerber, one of our lead researchers on Planet Four: Ridges . Laura studies physical volcanology, aeolian geomorphology, wind over complex surfaces, and the ancient Martian climate.
Hello Ridge Hunters!
We are nearing the end of the year on Earth, but we’re only in Martian month 4 on Mars (Solar Longitude = 99.2; Sol number = 214). But what a year on Earth it has been for Planet Four: Ridges. Since our launch on January 17th, thanks to 7,453 registered volunteers, we have retired 11,999 images! We have mapped ridges the length and breadth of the dichotomy boundary near Protonilus Mensae, Nilosyrtis Mensae, and Nili Fossae.
We are now moving into the strange and wondrous land of Sinus Meridiani, not too far from where the Opportunity Rover has been roving along at what might be the shore of a vast, ancient inland sea. The ridges in this new area are different—they are flat on top and splintered, and they can be dark or light compared to the background terrain. Instead of true polygons, they make broken circles. Take a look at the update tutorial to see examples of this new and strange type of ridge. By mapping ridges in Sinus Meridiani, we can compare and contrast them with their more northerly brothers, and determine why their morphologies are so different and what this meant for their environment and process of formation.
Happy Ridge Hunting, and if you find anything strange, let us know in the comments!