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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.





Planet Four at the Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting

The American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences meeting was held last week in Provo, Utah. We presented results from Planet Four: Terrains, but it wasn’t the only Planet Four project represented. There was an update on Planet Four. Chase Hatcher attended the meeting ready to talk about Planet Four. Chase is, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and he spent this past summer working in Colorado with Anya and Michael on Planet Four analysis.

Chase presented a poster on his work at DPS as well as some of the other progress on the Planet Four data analysis we’ve made. Thanks Chase for all the hard work and for representing Planet Four. You can find Chase’s poster below.



Planet Four: Terrains at the Division for Planetary Sciences Conferences


Image credit: DPS/AAS/

Greetings from Provo, Utah. I’m here to present science results on Planet Four: Terrains among other things.  The DPS is now trying out a new set of poster presentations using large touch screens, which they are calling iPosters. My abstract was selected for an iPoster. This means you can currently explore view and my iPoster online here. Enjoy!

Sagan Medal Public Talk at the Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting

This week I’m receiving the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Society’s Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication in Planetary Science in part for my activities with Planet Four. You can read the citation here.

I want to thank the Planet Four team and the Zooniverse team for all that they do. The Planet Four projects really are a team effort. I also want to take a moment to recognize the nearly 200,000 volunteers who have contributed their time and energy to the Planet Four projects.  A little slice of this medal belongs to each and every one of you. I’ve been truly amazed what your combined effort has achieved, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Thank you for time and your contributions. We couldn’t do this without you.

It’s traditional for the Sagan Medal recipients to give a public talk one evening of the meeting. I just got back a little while ago from giving the public talk on Brigham Young University’s campus. This year there are two Sagan Medal recipients: myself and Henry Throop, so we each gave a half hour public talk. I decided to talk about Planet Four and Planet Four: Terrains.

Last night, I recorded my practice run through of the talk so that I could share the talk with all of you. This very close to the version I gave tonight in Provo, Utah.

Planet Four at the 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

The abstracts for the accepted posters and talks at the 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) are now posted online. At the meeting in March, Planet Four and Planet Four: Terrains will be well represented at the Woodlands, Texas. Michael and Candy will be there with two posters presenting results thanks to your time and your clicks.

You can read Michael’s Planet Four poster abstract here and Candy’s poster abstract on Planet Four: Terrains here. The Planet Four: Terrains abstract contains examples of areas of interest found thanks to volunteers on Talk posting about what they’ve seen on Talk. Thanks especially to Ray Perry, Andy Martin, and Bill Wagner for their help spotting some interesting images that were included in the abstract.

DPS 2015 Conference Poster


Michael Aye’s 2015 DPS poster presenting the latest from Planet Four – Original source at

At the beginning of the month, Michael presented a poster at the Division of Planetary Sciences Conference in National Harbor Maryland. He digitally archived his poster so that we can share it with all of you. As you can see we’re nearly finished with the pipeline that combines the multiple individual volunteer markings to identify fans and blotches.  You can find the high resolution version of the poster here.


DPS 2015

Image credit:

Image credit: DPS

Greeting from somewhere over the Pacific ocean. I’m on a plane headed for the National Harbor, Maryland for the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting. This is one of the largest yearly gathering of planetary scientists in the world with people presenting work on a wide variety of topics including the Jovian satellites, comets, Mars, exoplanets, and Kuiper belt objects.

The entire core Planet Four science team will be attending the meeting this year, and Michael will presenting a poster on Planet Four and some new preliminary results. As the team is scattered in a few different places, this is the first time that we all will be in the same room together. We’ve mostly been working together remotely thanks to Skype, email, twitter, and telecons, with a few individual visits interspersed over the past few years.

DPS will be an intense week of talks, posters, cool new science results, catching up with collaborators, and saying hello to old friends.  I’m looking forward to it and to the Planet Four team dinner we have scheduled later in the week to to plan the coming months of data reduction and most importantly to sit down to all work on the final tasks for the first paper.

You can follow along with all the latest news and happenings from DPS attendees tweeting with the hasthag #DPS15

Planet Four at WIRED2015


A huge thanks to the WIREDUK team for giving me the opportunity to talk about Planet Four at WIRED2015. It  was an amazing experience to share what the hard work and effort that everyone involved in Planet (including over 130,000 people across the Earth) is achieving on Mars.  I ended my talk with ‘people on this world are helping us study the next,’ and it’s absolutely true. If you do have a spare minute, we have lots images to still go through. You can contribute to the Mars exploration today at and

We made the highlights from the first day video:

Here’s some pictures I took from the two days:

IMG_3223  IMG_3226

Meg Schwamb from the Planet Four Team talking about the project at WIRED2015 - image credit: @blkbeveragesUK (

Meg Schwamb from the Planet Four Team talking about the project at WIRED2015 – image credit: @blkbeveragesUK (


WIRED2015 meets Planet Four

I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be talking today about Planet Four and Planet Four: Terrains at this year’s WIRED2015 in London. I’m one of 14 Innovation Fellows selected this year by WIRED UK that will be speaking at today and tomorrow’s event. You can follow along on Twitter with #WIRED2015.

I’m excited to be included in such a fantastic line up of artists, musicians, chefs, activists, authors, scientists, engineers, and innovators. I’ll be speaking today in the aptly named ‘Turning Data Into Understanding’ session.  I’ll be be sharing  the motivations behind the projects, and the work of the 130,000+ collaborators who click by click are helping to better understand Mars. It really is due to your help and effort that we can explore the seasonal processes of the Mars’ south pole like never before.

Thank you for all your contributions, and there’s more of the South Pole to sift through. So if you have a spare moment, please map a fan or two on Planet Four or classify an image at Planet Four: Terrains.

Parts of WIRED2015 will be live streamed. A selection of the talks will be shown here over the next two days. So you might be able to catch my talk which is scheduled from 5:35 to 5:50 pm BST today. The full agenda can be found here.

Highlights from ZooCon 2015

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Grant Miller starting off ZooCon 2015 – Image credit: Pete Jalowiczor

Today we have a guest post from Andy Martin, one of  our dedicated Planet Four Talk moderators, who attended ZooCon 2015 in Oxford, UK on July 11th.  In a previous life as a chartered chemist, Andy tested the air at the House of Commons, assessed the quality of food, water and nuclear fuel testing, and worked on standards for breathalysers and dairy farm milking parlours. He now runs a campsite in Cornwall where there are lots more stars to stargaze at in the night sky than there were inside the M25. The photos accompanying the blog come from Planet Four volunteer Pete Jalowiczor. Pete has a background in Astrophysics; he was one of Prof. David Hughes’ Postgraduate students at the University of Sheffield, UK in the early ’90s researching Halley’s comet. He currently works in education assisting students in Further and Higher Education with learning difficulties.

And so to Oxford for Zoocon 2015, ably led by our master of ceremonies Grant Miller. The days events are available to view (the video of the talks can be found here) at so I’ll stick to a few highlights rather than provide minutes on the meeting.

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Off to Oxford Astrophysics Image credit: Pete Jalowiczor

 First up Becky Smethurst gave an up date on Snapshot Supernova which ran earlier this year in association with the BBC and Stargazing Live.  The project had been a great success and have caught 5 supernovas in the act of going bang. Whilst the supernovas were the stuff of “proper big science” Becky was just as pleased with the results of the group photo experiment to image Orion  This saw images of Orion taken by the public combined to provide a stunning image of the constellation, which you can see here (NB I found this with some difficulty, the beeb websites just loop when you start looking)

Ali Swanson next, all about Snapshot Serengeti which, amongst the delegates at least, seems to be a bit of a Marmite group, but everyone seems to have had a go, love it or hate it. The project has produced a paper and all the data collected to date has been made freely available to all, that’s around 1.2 million photos.

Victoria Van Hyning gave an interesting presentation on the humanities led projects which mainly center on the transcription of historical documents. You may already be aware of the War Diaries and sea logs projects but did you know you could help to transcribe ancient documents written in Greek (no ability to actually understand Grek required) via the Ancient Lives project.  Another project that I wasn’t aware of, but will be on the lust when I get some time, is Science Gossip. This involves a variety of scientific documents like the lab books and journals of working scientists.

Alissa Bans and Disk Detectives are identifying stars with disks around them where planets may be forming; YSO’s or Young Stellar Objects.  So far around 700 disk candidates have been identified some around close to home stars such as Vega.

An update on Disk Detective. Image credit: Pete Jalowiczor

An update on Disk Detective. Image credit: Pete Jalowiczor

Tom Hart has a cool job in more ways than one, he looks after Penguin Watch which monitors penguin populations using both satellite imaging and trail cameras similar to those used for Snapshot Serengeti.  Because of the extreme weather conditions and remoteness of the locations the team are working on cameras which will be able to stay in the field for up to 10 years without being touched.  The project has already seen some success in getting fishing restrictions imposed to protect penguin populations.

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Penguins! Image credit: Pete Jalowiczor

Zooniverse Past and Future ran over what’s been happening in the Zooniverse and what may yet come to pass.  There has been a paper published discussing ideas for citizen science in astronomy and the recent Earthquakes in Nepal saw the power of the Zooniverse used to identify areas where aid was needed but not being delivered, literally because the places affected were not on the map.

And finally back to Grant with what I think is the most exciting development for the Zooniverse yet.  The new platform enables anyone to set up and manage Zooniverse project of their very own. To show how easy this was Grant set up a project to identify attendees at ZooCon15 from photographs and measure the size of their smile. This he did in a couple of hours whilst the talks were going on.  To find out more log on to the Zooniverse and look for the Build a project’ button top right.All I need now is a huge pile of data to analyse.

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Image credit: Pete Jalowiczor

And thence to the pub to renew aquantancies and make friends anew.  Sadly the mild ran out early on but those who dined found their meals accompanied by designer new potatoes, purple all the way through, which tasted……just like potatoes.

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Planet Four representing at ZooCon 2015 Left to right: Andy Martin, Pete T, and Pete Jalowiczor (Thanks to Pete Jalowiczor for the photo)