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!
We’re thrilled to announce that Planet Four: Ridges is back. We’ve completed the Arabia Terra search for now, and today we’ve launched a new workflow to search for a different type of polygonal ridge that we’ve searched for previously. This new type of polygonal ridge is found in Sinus Meridiani, a darker area of Mars located in the northern midlatitudes of just south of the equator. You can see it’s located below Arabia Terra, the previous region we’ve been searching.
Meridiani-type polygonal ridges often look like broken spider webs or tattered lace. These ridges do not usually form neat boxy shapes, but they can be interconnected, looping, or branching. We need your help to identify these features, so that we can see if the Meridiani-type polygonal ridges follow the same trends we’re in seeing in the Arabia Terra polygonal ridges.
We are continuing to work on analyzing and reducing the classifications from the Arabia Terra search. You can learn more about that in this previous blog post from Laura.
Dive back into Planet Four: Ridges today at http://ridges.planetfour.org
Thanks to your help, we’ve finished search area two for Planet Four: Ridges. We’re working on analyzing the results and hopefully starting work on a paper based on those results. Laura has come up with a new region and slightly different type of polygonal ridge to search for. We’re working on getting that dataset processed and uploaded to the site. We hope to have this completed by the end of September with updated tutorials. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, Planet Four and Planet Four: Terrains could use some help if you can spare the time to classify an image or two.
Thanks for everyone’s patience while we worked on getting new images on the Planet Four: Ridges website. The data is now live on the site. This set of images is the 2nd third of the new search region we’ve been focusing on. This search region includes two of the three remaining potential landing sites for the NASA’s next Mars rover, called Mars 2020. You can learn more about the region in this blog post. Dive in and search for polygonal ridges today on http://ridges.planetfour.org
A quick update on all things Mars or at least all things Planet Four.
We got the referees’ reports back from the Planet Four: Terrains paper. The journal set it to two experts in the field. The read the paper and provided a critique of the paper. The reviewers gave positive feedback and have questions and concerns for us to address as well as other more minor requested changes to the manuscript. These additions and changes will improve the paper. So over the coming weeks, the science team will make modifications additions to the paper draft over the coming weeks and we hope to have it back in to the journal as soon as possible. Then our written response to the referees’ report and the updated manuscript will go back to the referees for their second look. We’ll keep you posted as we make more progress. In the meantime, there are new images we have uploaed on the Planet Four: Terrains website in need of review.
In regards to Planet Four: Ridges, thank to your help we’re completed 100 CTX images of our second search area. We’re currently working on getting new images onto the site. The CTX images are being processed as we speak and cut up into the subimages we need for the website. The images should hopefully be uploaded over the next week or so. Stay tuned to this space for more updates.
For Planet Four, we’re really at the stage of making the last changes and tweaks to the data analysis pipeline and switching gears to working on finishing the paper draft. We’ll have a separate blog post on that in the coming weeks.
We’ve got some good news for your weekend. We’ve got brand new images on Planet Four: Ridges, expanding further south and east of our original area. More area covered, gives more opportunities to find unknown polygonal ridges. The more ridges we find, the better statistics we will have when we compare to other orbiter data sets to see if ground water is the main source for how these ridges form. You can see where the search area is in comparison to our first data set below. The cyan show the footprints of the new CTX images on the site, the magenta are the footprints of the CTX images we had uploaded at launch. We thought the magenta area would take a year to search, so we’re thrilled that we can expand the search radius. Thanks for your time and your contributions. We really appreciated.
We’ll have some more blog posts in the coming days and weeks to talk more about this new search region.
Dive in and search for polygonal ridges today at http://ridges.planetfour.org
We’re now 60% through the third set of CTX images on Planet Four: Terrains. We’ve started to think about where we want to search next. We want to continue to fill in the area searched from -70 N latitude to the Martian South Pole. I’ve been coming up with the CTX image selection since the launch of Planet Four: Terrains. I wrote a code that goes through the list of publicly available CTX images and tries to pull out a well balanced distribution of ice-free CTX observations across specific latitude and longitude bins. I thought I’d share my proposed set of new CTX images to search. I’ve sent this list of images to the rest of the science team, and I’m awaiting their feedback. The new set if accepted by the team, will fill in gaps in our coverage and especially between -70 and -75 N latitude. When we have a final list of CTX image to search after dataset 3, we’ll update you here on the blog.
Color Code for figures below.
Red= first dataset at launched and used in our first paper
Green= second dataset
Magenta = third dataset that expanded out to -70 – currently being reviewed on the site
Gray = 4th proposed set of CTX observations to search
The CTX image outlines are overlaid on an elevation interpolated map. Latitude and longitude lines are in 10 degree intervals for above and below. The colors below represent geologic units, but for this comparison we’re focusing on spatial distribution and coverage. More details can be found here
Today we have a guest blog by JPL research scientist Laura Kerber. Laura studies physical volcanology, aeolian geomorphology, wind over complex surfaces, and the ancient Martian climate,
The surface area of Mars is almost the same as the area of all of the continents on Earth. Only a tiny fraction of these vast, untouched lands have been explored by rovers. Of the rest, much of it has still never been seen up close by human eyes. Today we’ve launched Planet Four: Ridges, and we are asking for your help to explore a particularly interesting part of the Red Planet. The goal is to find polygonal ridge networks, which are intersecting lattices of thin ridges enclosing polygonal shapes.
Some of these ridges can be up to 50 meters tall, and from the surface would appear like the ramparts of an enormous fortress. Networks of ridges are usually formed via the filling of fracture networks either with lava, wind-blown sediment, or mineral deposits from circulating ground waters. These fractures are then transformed into ridges as the softer units around them get eroded by the wind. Your classifications on this site will help researchers find these networks and compare them to distributions of other features, such as mineral signatures, ancient valley networks, and dried up lakes. The images you see here are taken using the mid-resolution (6 meter per pixel) Context Camera (CTX) in orbit around Mars. Each participant views portion of images and decides whether or not there is a polygonal ridge network in the frame. We collect together everyone’s views on each image and this helps us find new ridge networks to study. The ridge networks can be subtle, but human eyes are well suited for pattern-finding, which is why we rely on you over computer algorithms.
More than 3.5 billion years ago, the climate of Mars was much different than it is today. The surface of Mars shows evidence for hundreds of lakes, and thousands of kilometers of flowing rivers. During this time and earlier, warm groundwater may have circulated in the Martian subsurface, potentially providing a protected home for early Martian life. One piece of evidence for groundwater during this period is the presence of clays that are deep in the crust (often visible in the central peaks of impact craters). Another is the presence of mineral veins, which are formed when warm water carrying elements in solution deposits minerals on the walls of fractures. Hot water or steam can also alter wall rocks of fractures, causing the walls to harden compared with the surrounding material. Later, after the crack cools, the minerals become harder than the rock types that surround them, so that as the surrounding unit get eroded by the wind, what was originally a fracture becomes a ridge.
Not all polygonal ridge networks are formed due to circulating groundwater, however. Sometimes open cracks on the surface get filled with windblown dust and sand, and that part gets preserved. Lava can also fill up cracks, either as it rises through the subsurface as magma, or if it is flowing along and drips into a fracture network. Finding all of the ridge networks on Mars helps us untangle which networks were formed by which process, all the while learning more about the intriguing wetter period in Mars’ history. This project focuses on the Eastern Arabia Terra region of Mars, where several ridge networks suggestive of mineral veins have been found.
As the project continues, we hope to share more background information on these interesting features here on this blog. Meanwhile, why not go find some ridge networks? Visit http://ridges.planetfour.org to start looking.
January 8th, marked the 4th anniversary (well at least in Earth years!) of the launch of the one and only original Planet Four. We wanted to thank you for being on this journey with us for the past four Earth years. Our first science paper seems to always be delayed, but I and the rest of the science team are dedicated to getting this paper out the door. The science team is virtually meeting on Wednesday to discuss what I hope is the freezing of the development of the classification clustering algorithm. That’s the hurdle in our way, and over the past Earth year Michael has made great strides dealing with the major issues we needed to tackle to get the science from your clicks. Thank you for your time and effort on the site. We still need you, and new data from Manhattan Season 5 is now live on the site. So go check it out and classify some fans and blotches at http://www.planetfour.org.
Planet Four has been able to show that a citizen science approach beyond crater identification with Mars orbital imagery works. The science team was invited this past fall to showcase Planet Four at a workshop focused on citizen participation in Mars exploration hosted by NASA Headquarters. Planet Four’s successes, has spawned other Mars Zooniverse citizen science projects: Planet Four: Terrains (which has already produced results with Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter pointing HiRISE and new locations on the Martian South Pole) and a birthday gift if you like that is coming tomorrow! Stay tuned to this space for more tomorrow! We can’t wait to share this new endeavor with you all.
Thank you for the past four years and onward to Year 5!
Today marks the first anniversary of the launch of the Zooniverse Project Builder Platform and with that today also marks the 1st birthday of Planet Four: Terrains. You can read the blog post by Zooniverse PI Chris Lintott from that day. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to create this project due to the capabilities offered with the new Zooniverse project builder. Planet Four: Terrains is truly a project we wouldn’t have created without it; many thanks needs to go to the Zooniverse development team who created and continue to support and enhance the project builder.
When we launched Planet Four: Terrains, we really didn’t know what we were going to find. The science team thought the project would discover a few interesting areas with spiders to follow-up. An Earth year later, 10,000+ people have effectively moved a NASA spacecraft and decided where it will image! Now we have 20+ regions that were forwarded to the HiRISE team and ultimately selected to be imaged by the HiRISE camera. HiRISE aboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will examine the areas in more detail and for many see how they evolve with multiple observations spread over the coming Spring and Summer on the Martian South Pole. This is incredible! HiRISE has ~20x higher resolution than CTX subimages shown on the site, so we should get exquisite detail of the spider channels and any seasonal fans and blotches that form. Next week marks the official start of Spring and the return of the Sun to the South Pole of Mars. As the lighting improves with the ever increasing sunlight, the first HiRISE images from these new targets should start coming in soon, we hope. Stay tuned to this space for updates!
Thank for your time and effort on Planet Four: Terrains. We couldn’t do this without you. As our way of saying thank you, we’ve created a collection of all the subject images selected for high spatial resolution HiRISE imaging. You can peruse it here. With any luck in a few weeks, we’ll be able to share some of the first HiRISE images of these areas from this Mars Year’s seasonal monitoring campaign.
Help celebrate Planet Four: Terrains’ first birthday today by classifying images today at http://terrains.planetfour.org