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Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – David Bowie was right!

Today we have a guest post by Planet Four volunteer Peter Jalowiczor.

Why Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars? As we know Ziggy Stardust is David Bowie’s alter ego, a rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. Unfortunately, no extraterrestrial beings have been found on Mars (at the time of writing, at least!). But spiders have definitely been discovered…

From this then, as a Planet Four contributor for a number of years now, I recently put together a talk about the P4 Project to be given at my local Astronomical Society: the MSAS (Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society). The society is based about 20km from Sheffield (pop. 570,000), England and was founded in 1978. Every Thursday evening is a social occasion centered around a talk.  Members, such as myself are encouraged to give talks on different subjects. Usually once a month, an academic visits the society to lecture on an aspect of Astronomy. In March this year the MSAS held a ‘Back to Basics Workshop’ in conjunction with the BAA (British Astronomical Association).

Back to the talk: my initial presentation was to be a preliminary discussion about Mars in general, before focusing on the results (images) from the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment).

After letting Meg know of my P4 talk, I was very kindly sent lecture materials over from Hawaii. and on June 1st did my best to interpret and present one of Meg’s lectures: ‘Exploring Mars with 150,000 Earthlings’. This was Meg’s lecture at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii  from February. It was an introduction to the Planet Four Project and collaboration with over 150,000 citizen scientist volunteers worldwide. Describing how, by the power of the internet, volunteers map the fans and other surface features formed by carbon dioxide jets helping planetary scientists characterize surface features on Mars. There was also a discussion of the other Mars projects: Terrains and Ridges and how people can get involved in exploring Mars from the comfort of their own home.


Photo courtesy: Jeremy Robinson, MSAS Member.

Photo courtesy: Jeremy Robinson, MSAS Member.

Photos from just before start of the lecture are included here. On an evening where I was competing against the British weather – but this time it was a very beautiful, warm sunny evening (something to be cherished in the UK) so the turnout wasn’t that bad. The society was very interested in the research carried out by the team and is grateful to Meg for the material.

A Zoominar

Greetings from Oxford, UK where the spires are looking lovely in the Autumn weather. I’ve been on a bit of a Planet Four talk tour this 2 weeks between WIRED2015 and the Bash Symposium. I’m spending a few days at the Oxford Zooniverse HQ before heading back to Taiwan. I’ll be spending some time working on a few projects while I’m here in Oxford including Planet Four and  especially on the next steps for Planet Four: Terrains data analysis.  I got asked to give a short Zoominar (the Oxford Zooniverse group’s seminar series) to introduce the motivations behind Planet Four and a quick status report of where we are with the project for the Zooniverse core team in Oxford and other interested folks. I thought I’d share my slides. The slide show below is adapted from my talk.

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