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Spiders are now in Planetary Database

Hi everyone!

Citizen scientists are helping us to find new targets for HiRISE on Planet Four: Terrains. They are looking at CTX images.

I once did a very similar search with Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) images. The camera worked on Mars Global Surveyor from 1997 to 2006. It had 2 sub-systems: a wide-angle camera and a narrow angle camera. The narrow angle camera obtained grayscale images with resolution from 1.5 to 12 m per pixel. It was just good enough to resolve larger spiders and fans.

In 2004 I looked through all MOC images that existed at the time and were located south of latitude -75º. I was hunting for spiders. The result is a list of MOC images that feature spiders and it is now being added to Integrated Database of Planetary Features. It will be available as a layer in JMARS system in a couple of months.

You can see Spiders map on Database of Planetary Features.

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When we have a catalog of CTX images with spiders created by you, we will also integrate it into this database! Then everyone can easily navigate around different locations of spider terrains.

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A Summer on Mars

Today we have a  post from Gauri Sharma who will be working on Planet Four this summer as part of the ASIAA Summer Student Program.

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Meet Gauri

Name: GAURI SHARMA

What is your current position and where/institution?

I am undergraduate in MATHEMATICS from jiwaji university, INDIA. I was working as research assistant in Indian institute of astrophysics. This year going to pursue my master’s in astrophysics from Aix Marseille university, France.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I grew up in Gwalior, madhya pradesh India

What are your research interests/what do you work on?

Right now I am interested to know about whole astronomy , and after my master’s, I am going to select one if them, for my further research.

Why are you interested in Mars?

It’s my first planet from where I started my first sky watch, my celestial object, from where I am going to start my research. And it’s a planet if my dream where, I wanted to be land  so finally I got it… At least for look up deeply.

What is your favorite movie?

Any fairytale …..

What is your favorite book?

Mahabharata, by vedvyas

What is the song you currently can’t get out of your head?

Mangal bhawan yaa mangal hari, drabhu su dashrath ajar bhiri

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

No songs

Favorite cocktail or beverage?

Ginger tea

Meet the Team: Darren McRoy

Today we have the next installment of our Meet the Planet Four Team series, featuring Darren McRoy from the Zooniverse team.

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Name: Darren McRoy

What is your current position and where/institution?

I am currently the Zooniverse Community Builder at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I was born in Beverly, MA, and raised in Andover, MA. I moved to IL to attend Northwestern University, starting in 2006.

In 3 lines explain what you do as part of the Zooniverse development team?

My primary role is to be a liaison with our citizen science community as we continue to expand the Zooniverse in exciting new directions. I also assist in general communications efforts, such as producing and editing written content for projects. Currently, I am working closely with our designers and developers on the next generation of Zooniverse’s Talk discussion system.

Why do you find interesting about Mars?

Both the possibility of human habitation and the incredible barriers that exist towards making it a reality.

What is your favorite movie?

Airplane! (1980)

What is your favorite book?

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

What is the song you currently can’t get out of your head?

“And Then There Was Silence,” Blind Guardian, A Night at the Opera, 2002

 What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

Land of the Free, Gamma Ray, 1995

The River, Bruce Springsteen, 1980

Thriller, Michael Jackson, 1982

Favorite cocktail or beverage?

Any witbier/Belgian white beer

Meet the Team: Andy Martin

Today we have the next installment of our Meet the Planet Four Team series, featuring Andy Martin one of our Planet Four Talk moderators.

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Name: Andy Martin

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up? 

Horndean in Hampshire, now own and run a campsite in Bude, Cornwall

What drew you to participate in Planet Four?

Being able to get up close and personal with the surface of another world

What is your role as a Planet Four Talk moderator?

I guess it’s to help people find their way around at Planet 4, answer the questions they have, which I only know the answers to because I asked the same thing when I started out. Hopefully we can encourage them to get involved and not be afraid to post, ask questions and put up their own theories about how things work. And of course I’ve got plenty of questions of my own to post 😉

What do you find interesting about Mars?

What i really like about the Planet4 project is that we are looking at what is still pretty much an unexplored world. There’s lots to look and wonder at, more questions than answers and no-one yet has the definitive line on everything going on with regard to the seasonal fans.

What is your favorite movie?

Animal House

What is your favorite book?

Lord of The Rings is the one I read again and again,

What is the song you currently can’t get out of your head?

The Dahlmanns cover of Amy Rigby’s “Dancing with Joey Ramone”, but I also have a repeat of 2 lines from James – Sit Down running through my head “If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor”

What three albums would you take with you to a desert island?

Ohh toughie – Live albums any one from The Ramones – It’s alive/Green Day – Bullet in a Bible/Thin Lizzy – Live and Dangerous ; Wreckless Eric – Greatest Stiffs; Eddie and the Hot Rods – Teenage Depression

Favorite cocktail or beverage?

Youngs Double Chocolate Stout

Meet the Team: John Keegan

Today we have the next installment of our Meet the Planet Four Team series, featuring John Keegan one of our Planet Four Talk moderators.

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Name: John Keegan

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I was born in Rochdale, Lancashire. For the last 30 years I’ve lived in the hills of Todmorden, West Yorkshire.

What drew you to participate in Planet Four?

The opportunity to help produce ‘weather maps’ on Mars was too good to miss, but if I’m really honest then I’ve got to admit I was lured by the fabulous HiRISE images on display.

What is your role as Planet Four Talk moderator?

I see myself as something of a ‘tour guide’, answering questions and sharing what I have learnt here on Planet Four. I try to keep track of who’s discussing what, so that I can point visitors to discussions that may be of interest to them. I’ve also got a bit of a reputation as the P4 comedian, but judging by the groans of other visitors I’m not sure that’s working out too well.

What do you find interesting about Mars?

Just about everything I see on Mars is interesting in some way or another, but the ‘spiders’ are definately my favourite objects. I’m beginning to take a particular interest in spiders that form at the bottom of craters.

What is your favorite movie?

It’s a tie between Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘Copying Beethoven’ starring Ed Harris.

What is your favorite book?

Another tie, between Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Kepler’s ‘Harmonices Mundi’.

What is the song you currently can’t get out of your head?

‘You Really Got Me’ by the Kinks.

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

All nine symphonies of Beethoven should fit on three albums.

Favorite cocktail or beverage?

Coffee with milk, no sugar, in a never ending stream.

Meet the Team: Michael Aye

Today we have the next installment of our Meet the Planet Four Team series, featuring Michael Aye from the Science Team.

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Name:  K.-Michael Aye

What is your current position and where/institution?

Postdoctoral Researcher at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA, Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences 

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I am from Germany, where I grew up approx 100 km northwest of Hamburg, near the North Sea.

What are your research interests/what do you work on?

  • Surface atmosphere interactions on Mars, creating visual phenomena that do not exist on Earth
  • Calibration of the Diviner radiometer instrument on-board the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)
  • Automated image feature extraction using machine learning procedures

In 3 lines explain your PhD thesis?

I developed a calibration system for the photo-multiplier based cameras of the ground-based high energy gamma-ray telescope system H.E.S.S. This system was based on using nano-second short UV-laser pulses fluorescing a scintillator material and transporting that broader-band light through 50 m of fiber cables and have all this remote controllable. I finished up with installing and operating a LIDAR and radiometer to monitor the atmosphere status as required to cross-calibrate the observed gamma-ray flashes from the particle showers in the atmosphere.

Why are you interested in Mars?

Mars and Venus are the closest siblings of Earth and to understand their differences makes us understand Earth better (but I don’t like the multitude of Venusian chemistry that much.. yet 😉 The lack of water on Mars really makes it a great lab for studying the interface between the surface and atmosphere because on Earth most of what we see is dominated by water-based erosion. On Mars, it’s the wind and amazing CO2 sublimation effects.

What is your favorite movie?

The Matrix

What is your favorite book?

I don’t have much time for reading anymore, but when I did, these books were big fun:

  • “Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman” (showing a bit too much hubris at times, but he was indeed a genius)
  • “Titan” from Steven Baxter (greatly informed S-F)
  • The robot novels of Isaac Asimov made me appreciate the complexity of connecting human language and interaction schemes to the operation of machines. It inevitably makes you think about the human consciousness definition as well. A must read for any S-F fan.

What is the song you currently can’t get out of your head?

“Get lucky” by Daft Punk

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

  • “Love is the tender trap” by Stacey Kent. The most ingenious introduction to Jazz ever made. Soft, gentle, but with everything that ever was important for Jazz to make it less fringy but more popular. It was my intro to Jazz and I will never stop loving it. It has an absolute genius of a piano player as well.
  • “Gran Riserva” by dZihan & Kamien. Great electronic lounge for the long work nights. I basically wrote my PhD with it.
  • And now the surprise 🙂 “Once more with feeling”, soundtrack to the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire slayer. Also a remnant of my PhD times, it shows the early genius of Joss Whedon to its fullest.

Favorite cocktail or beverage?

I wouldn’t be able to pick really favorites, but among them are Margaritas on hot days, Caipirinhas and Mojitos. And since my 4 year stay in good ol’ England, I really am loving ales of all kind.

Meet the Planet Four Team: Brian Carstensen

Today we have the next installment of our Meet the Planet Four Team series, featuring Brian Carstensen from the Zooniverse development team.

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Name: Brian Carstensen

What is your current position and where/institution?

Front end web developer at the University of Oxford

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I’m originally from Chicago.

In 3 lines explain what you do as part of the Zooniverse development team?

I used to build user interfaces for various projects.
Now I’m working on the UI for the new Zooniverse-as-a-platform infratructure.
I’m also taking on some graphic design responsibility for the new system.

What was your role in Planet Four?

I built the part of the site our volunteers interact with. The marking tools in Planet Four were actually the first prototype of the drawing library now used in most of the more recent Zooniverse projects.

Why do you find interesting about Mars?

I’m just waiting patiently for someone to start terraforming it so my great-great-great-etc. grandbabies can hang out there.

What is your favorite movie?

Primer (2004)

What is your favorite book?

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

What is the song you currently can’t get out of your head?

Ella Fitzgerald’s botched recording of Mack the Knife.

 What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

Six Demon Bag by Man Man
The Milk Eyed Mender by Joanna Newsom
Milo Goes to College by Descendent

Favorite cocktail or beverage?

Moscow mule!

My Summer with Planet Four

Today we have a guest post from Chuhong Mai, an undergraduate student working on Planet Four this summer as part of the ASIAA Summer Student Program.

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As a summer student at ASIAA (Institute of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Academia Sinica), I am studying seasonal processes on the South Pole of Mars with Dr.Meg Schwamb. Well, we are quite aware that fans and blotches appear and disappear on the South Pole as the seasons change. Via HiRISE on MRO mission, we can obtain unprecedented details of them but also a large amount of unprocessed data. We hope to make good use of the data in order to have a better understanding of their physical processes, yearly evolution and influence on Mars climate.

Our first problem is the position. With all the markings you’ve made on these HiRISE cut-outs, we need to know the precise locations and thus the distribution of them. The way the images you see are Planet Four are processed we can’t directly add the spacecraft information needed to  calculate the latitude and longitude straight from the x and y positions from your markings. Instead I’ve written a pipeline using the Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS) to turn raw HiRISE data from Season 2 & 3  into pretty mosaics with the spacecraft information added. Now we are able to get the detailed greographic information of any point of interest. This means that the Planet Four team can now  measure the actual size and shape of these fans and blotches, as well as to project them on the true surface. Once we do the time series analysis, we can have a deep look on seasonal change.

In addition,  I’m also working on  ‘frost fans‘, which contain pretty blue or white stuff around or in the center of themselves. They are considered to possibly be the condensation of CO2 that come out of the vents,  but we actually have little knowledge of them. I’ll be examining images from Talk where volunteers have used hashtags to mark these features and seeing what I can learn about when and under what conditions these colored features appear. Perhaps the following study could reveal some clues to decode the puzzle.

Meet Chuhong

Name: Chuhong Mai

What is your current position and where/institution?

I am an undergraduate student in Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China. And now I am working as a summer student at the Institute of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Academia Sinica (ASIAA), Taiwan.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

Jiangmen, Guangdong Province, China.

What are your research interests/what do you work on?

I am interested in the whole solar system, and solar systems beyond our own. For me they are places full of miracles and hopes. I’m curious about their origins, their histories and their future. Thus I work on planets, small bodies and planet formation.

Why are you interested in Mars?

Because of its mystery. I am a huge fan of science fiction, and Mars is always one of the most popular topics in sci-fi books and films. I like its red face and wonder what happened and is happening on it.

What is your favorite movie?

Contact, directed by Robert Zemeckis

What is your favorite book?

<The Three Body Problem> by Cixin LIu (It’s not a mathematics textbook but science fiction.)

What is the song you currently can’t get out of your head?

Valder Fields by Tamas Wells

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

<A Plea en Vendredi> by Tamas Wells, <Europa> by Ron Korb, <A Wish to the Moon> by Joe Hisaishi.

Favorite cocktail or beverage?

Milk tea.

Meet the Planet Four Team: Meg Schwamb

Today we have the next installment of our Meet the Planet Four Team series, featuring Meg Schwamb from the Science Team.

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Image credit: Sundar Srinivasan

 

Name: Meg Schwamb

What is your current position and where/institution?

I am currently an Academia Sinica Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Academia Sinica (ASIAA) located in Taipei, Taiwan.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I grew up on Long Island, New York in the United States (which means I’m obligated to get all the references to Long Island in Billy Joel songs)

What are your research interests/what do you work on?

I am interested in the fundamental questions of how our Solar System and others formed and evolved, as well as exploring the process of planet formation. I also study the outer Solar System, specifically the planetesimals that reside in the Kuiper Belt (the belt of icy bodies left over from planet formation orbiting  outside Neptune’s orbit) and beyond. I also am involved in the discovery and characterization of extrasolar planets (exoplanets), planets orbiting stars outside our solar system. In addition to being involved with Planet Four, I am a founding member of the Planet Hunters science team. Planet Hunters is a citizen science project enlisting the general public to search for the signatures of exoplanets in the public data from NASA’s Kepler mission.

In 3 lines explain your PhD thesis?

My thesis was studying the small icy planetesimals of the outer Solar System orbiting past Neptune in the region of the Kuiper belt and beyond. I used a wide-field survey to look for more objects like dwarf planet-sized Sedna, whose highly distant and eccentric orbit  cannot be explained by the current architecture of the Solar System. I didn’t find any new Sedna-like bodies in the outer Solar System, but I put constraints on the size and properties of the population.

Why are you interested in Mars?

I’m interested in studying the formation and evolution of all kinds of planets, dwarf planets, and planetesimals. What I find  so exciting about Mars is that it is one of our closest planetary neighbors, and we are reaching out and touching it! Mars is our best studied planet beyond the Earth. We are able to  explore the complex processes and evolution happening on Mars’ surface and atmosphere is such detail thanks to the rovers, landers, and orbiting spacecraft that NASA, ESA, and others have sent to the Red Planet.

What is your favorite movie?

One of my all time favorites is ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ and a more recent favorite is ‘Her’.

What is your favorite book?

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

What is the song you currently can’t get out of your head?

My musical tastes are pretty eclectic and varied. There are always several songs in rotation I have playing on repeat since I can’t get them out of my head. There’s too many to just pick one song. I can settle on the top three of the moment: Sia’s “Chandelier”,  Fitz and the Tantrums’ “The Walker”, and Arcade Fire’s “We Exist”.

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs”,  How to Destroy Angels’  “Welcome Oblivion” and Nine Inch Nails’ “With Teeth”.

Favorite cocktail or beverage?

Recently it has been a well made Manhattan, but I always love a glass of good champagne.

Meet the Planet Four Team: Chris Lintott

Today we have the next installment of our Meet the Planet Four Team series, featuring Chris Lintott, Principal Investigator (PI) of the Zooniverse  and PI of Galaxy Zoo.

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Name: Chris Lintott

What is your current position and where/institution?

On a train somewhere in Hampshire, on my way back to Oxford where I’m a researcher in the department of physics & a research fellow at New College.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

Torbay, South Devon.

What are your research interests/what do you work on?

Answering email, with a side line in galaxy evolution and formation and a smattering of exoplanet stuff.

In 3 lines explain your PhD thesis?

Paying attention to chemistry helps us understand star formation, but the chemistry is very sensitive to the environment in which the stars are forming. Also, I went to Hawaii and thought about galaxies.

In 3 lines explain what you do as part of the Zooniverse team?

Answer email. As principle investigator, I try to keep everyone in line and write the grant proposals that keep the whole thing running.

What was your role in Planet Four?

It was a conversation with Candy Hansen (while filming for the BBC) that got the project rolling. I’ve also given advice based on our existing projects.

Why are you interested in Mars?

I like all the ways it isn’t Earthlike – it’s such a strange and interesting place. So like home, and yet so different.

What is your favorite movie?

I just re watched Fargo and am a big Coen brothers fan in general.

What is your favorite book?

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

What is the song you currently can’t get out of your head?

Bellowhead, Gosport Nancy

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

As much of the Ring cycle as I’m allowed.

Bach cello suites (the Yo-Yo Ma version)

Screamadelica

Favorite cocktail or beverage?

Sazerac, and Clos Floridene. Not together.