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Planet Four: Terrain’s First Science Paper Accepted for Publication

I’m pleased to announce that our first scientific paper for Planet Four: Terrains  was accepted to the journal Icarus.  Below is a snapshot from the top of the paper manuscript, and the paper is publicly available via the free preprint we’ve put online here.

A big thank you to all the volunteers who contributed to the publication. We acknowledge everyone who contributed to the project on the results page of the Planet Four at: http://p4tauthors.planetfour.org

The paper presents the first spider and swiss cheese terrain catalog derived from your classifications. 90 CTX images comprising ~11% of the Martian South Polar region southward of -75 N latitude were searched by Planet Four: Terrains volunteers. This comprised approximately 20,000 subject images reviewed on the Planet Four: Terrains website with 20 independent reviews. The P4: Terrains search coverage is shown below:

Footprint of CTX image searched by Planet Four: Terrains for the first paper

Applying a weighting scheme, we combine classifications together to identify spiders and swiss cheese terrain. The weighting scheme isn’t testing anyone, but it helps us find more spiders by allowing us to pay slightly more attention to those that are better at identifying spiders and help increase the overall detection efficiency of the project. Details can be found in the paper.

Using the weighting scheme each Planet Four: Terrains subject has a spider score which is the sum of the  weights of the volunteers who identified spiders in the image divided by the sum of the weights of the volunteers who reviewed the subject image. Using classifications from Anya and I for a very small subset of the subject images, we found a spider scores above which we’re highly confident the identifications have few false positives.

To our surprise when we compared to the map of the secure spider locations to the geologic map of the South Polar region, we found araneiforms or spiders where we didn’t expect them to be. In previous surveys of the South Polar region, araneiforms were found to be located only on the South Polar Layered deposits (SPLD). The SPLD has been measured to have a height of ~4 km and covering a surface area of ~90,000 square kilometers mainly comprised of  varying dust and water ice layers as well as some buried carbon dioxide and water ice deposits. Previous works have theorized that something about the unconglomerated nature of the SPLD, might make it easier for spiders to form there than other areas of the South Polar region

CTX side view of the SPLD

Magenta points show the Planet Four: Terrains spider identifications on top of the geologic map. The dark blue represents the South Polar Layered Deposits (SPLD).

To confirm these identifications were real, we needed HiRISE imaging.  CTX has a resolution of 6-8 m/pixel. HiRISE can resolve up to a coffee table on Mars with a resolving power of 30 cm/pixel. With HiRISE we could see the wiggly dendritic nature of the channels and as well see seasonal fans to confirm that these form via the carbon dioxide jet process.  8 areas outside of the SPLD were targeted last Summer and Fall by HiRISE.

Below are just a few examples of the HiRISE subframes of these regions off the SPLD:

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona – Schwamb et al. (in press)

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona – Schwamb et al. (in press)

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona – Schwamb et al. (in press)

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona – Schwamb et al. (in press)

There be spiders! Araneiform channels can clearly be seen in the images above. The HiRiSE images confirm the spider/araneiform identification. We also see seasonal fan activity as well. For the first time we have found spiders/araneiforms outside of the SPLD!

This result is exciting. For some of these areas we have sequences with HiRISE taken over time which we hope we can put it into Planet Four to measure how the fans sizes and appearance are different from their counterparts on the SPLD. Now we get a chance to study how these locales off the SPLD are similar or differ from the SPLD and try to learn why these areas and not others have spider channels.

We’ve only searched a small fraction of the Martian South Polar region. We have more images on the site to expand the search area to see where else spiders/araneiforms may be. Help us today by classifying an image or two at http://terrains.planetfour.org

 

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Happy 2nd Birthday Planet Four: Terrains

Happy Birthday Planet Four: Terrains! Last Thursday marked the second anniversary of the launch of Planet Four: Terrains. Thank you for all of your help over the past two years. We couldn’t do this without you. To celebrate here’s a recipe for a Martian South Polar Trifle for you to make for your own Mars party. It’s inspired by this recipe:

  • 1 package (20 ounce) chocolate cream filled cookies like Oreos or Hydrox
  • 16 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of  powdered sugar
  • 2 small packages of instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3.5  cups milk (recommend dairy milk  – skim to whole works fine)
  • 1 tub (20 ounce) of whipped topping (not canned whipped topping but the kind you find in the freezer section). ( You can also make your own from scratch using whipping cream if you like. Just add a little bit of powdered sugar mixed in to taste)

Making the ground layer: Place chocolate cream filled cookie in a bowl or plastic bag, saving 4-6 cookies for the top later. Use a rolling pin, bottom of a glass, etc to crush the cookies. Place 3/4 of the crushed cookies on the bottom of a nine-inch glass pie plate or any glass container so you can see through the sides if possible.

Making the seasonal ice sheet mixed with seasonal ice and boulder: Soften the butter., then mix together cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar until smooth (electric mixer or whisk is fine). With whisk combine the pudding mix with the milk until smooth and slightly thickened. Fold together cream cheese mixture, whip topping, and pudding mixture.  Add 2-3 drops of  red food coloring to get a light red color (the red food color and the power sugar represent the atmospheric dust trapped in the ice sheet). Then mix in the remaining 1/4 of the crushed cookies to represent boulders trapped in the ice sheet. Pour the mixture over the ground layer of cookies.

Topping of seasonal fans: Crush the remaining few cookies very finely, sprinkle on the top to create seasonal fan shapes

Refrigerate the trifle for 3 hours or more before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

The inspiration – seasonal fans in the South Polar region as imaged by HiRISE in the Southern spring or summer.

Update on the Planet Four: Terrains Paper

A quick update on the Planet Four: Terrains paper. For the past month or so the team has been working on making changes to the manuscript and creating new figures to address the concerns of the two independent referees who reviewed the paper. The referees are experts in the field who assess and critique the paper. Having an independent set of eyes give feedback is useful and makes the paper better. We’ve submitted the revised draft on May 16th with a list of each of the changes we made to address the points raised by the referees. We’re waiting to hear back from the journal.  We hope that after this first round of review/edits that there will be only minor changes requested going forward. We’ll have to wait for the referees’ to read the revised manuscript and our report and send their assessment to the editor.  Fingers crossed for a speedy review.

As a teaser, below is a new figure we made for the paper.  The image is a subframe from a HiRISE observation of one of the regions targeted based on your classifications on Planet Four: Terrains. You can see that this area is like Inca City where we see fans emanating from a top the ice sheet where boulders are embedded/below the ice sheet. Not all the boulders exhibit seasonal fan/carbon dioxide jet activity when this image was taken

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 12.42.27 PM

Image credit: HiRISE/University of Arizona/JPL

An Update on All Things Mars

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.

Where Planet Four: Terrains Might Go Next

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

p4t_proposed_coverage_elevation

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

p4t_proposed_coverage

First Planet Four: Terrains Science Paper Submitted

It is my great pleasure to announce that we have written up the first science results for Planet Four: Terrains in a science paper. After months of writing an analysis we have a final draft ready, and last night I  submitted it to the journal Icarus to be considered for their Mars Polar Science special issue.

Right now the manuscript is in the hands of the editor.  After some checks, the paper should be sent on to two anonymous reviewers. In what we call the peer review process, these reviewers are independent researchers in the field who read the paper, critique it, and provide feedback which the I will have a chance to respond to and make some or all the recommended revisions to the paper. This process can have a few rounds of iterations with the referee. Ultimately, the referees will recommend to editor of whether the paper  merits being published, and the editor makes the final decision.

So now we wait. The manuscript is in the hands of the editor at Icarus who is likely selecting and contacting possible referees. In a month or so we should get back the first round of reviews. I’ll keep you posted here on the blog. So stay tuned! This paper focuses on the distribution of spiders and swiss cheese terrain from the data on the site at launch. We’ve also included analysis of some of the HiRISE  observations taken of some of these new spider locations. I’ plan to write a fully summary of the paper results once the paper is hopefully accepted in a few months.

Thank you to all of you who have participated in Planet Four: Terrains. We could not have done this without you. We appreciate the time and effort you put into this project. Thank you for collaborating with us.

We also want to thank the Zooniverse team for giving the research team early access to their Project Builder platform to build and design Planet Four: Terrains.

Planet Four: Terrains is not finished. This is just the beginning. We’ve expanded out search more areas way from the South Pole. Many of those images are in need of review. So jump in and help explore Mars today at http://terrains.planetfour.org

Before the Sunlight Leaves

A quick update on Planet Four: Terrains. I’m working on the first paper draft and planning on submitting it to a science journal by early February with any luck. Currently the draft is being iterated on; I’m incorporating comments and feedback from the rest of the science team. The paper focuses on the distribution of spider features on the South Pole based on Planet Four: Terrains assessments. So stay tuned for more on that over the coming months.

In the meantime, I’ve also processed the subject images currently retired from the newest set of images on the site. We’ve found  interesting areas with spiders and baby spiders that we’d like to get a closer look at. We’re hoping that HiRISE will image these over the coming months. The days on the South Pole are getting shorter. May 5th 2017 marks the official start of Southern Fall Equinox. In a few months time, we’ll have to wait approximately 2 Earth years for an opportunity to image interesting regions of the South Pole with HiRISE found by Planet Four: Terrains.

Processing the retired subjects from the current set of CTX images on the site, we found four new regions of interest thanks to your collaboration that we want to take a better look at. We  have requested HiRISE imaging. So the race is on to get through as many of the P4: Terrains subject images as we can before there won’t be enough sunlight for HiRISE observations. If you can spare some time, place help classify an image or two for spiders, baby spiders, channel networks, swiss cheese terrain, and craters on http://terrains.planetfour.org

New Metadata Feature on Planet Four: Terrains Talk

The latest set of Planet Four: Terrains images comes with some added bonus features on Talk. Thanks to upgrades in the Zooniverse platform we can now display additional information with the metadata icon on Talk that won’t appear in the classification interface. So we can share the original parent CTX image name and a link to the image on Talk for your further investigations. We don’t show this information in the classification interface in order to keep the classifications free from any potential causes of bias.

So now when you classify, if you want to check out the full frame CTX image the subject is derived from, just click on the ‘Talk’ button after submitting your classification. This will bring you to the Talk Subject Page for this subject. Then if you click on the ‘i’ icon below the image,the metadata window will pop up (see below)

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 11.43.11 PM

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 11.21.34 PM

!filename is the internal filename the Planet Four: Terrains used to name the subject when we generated it. !CTX_filename is the name of the full frame CTX image the subject comes from. !Public_CTX_link will take you to the MRO Context Camera Image Explorer where you can view the image (the link was working earlier to directly show the CTX image but isn’t working for me at the moment. If  you have any issues you can always copy and paste the CTX filename into the search box and that will bring up the image)

New Images Live on Planet Four: Terrains

Brand new images are now available on Planet Four: Terrains. Thanks to your help we finished all the live data on the site earlier this week. We have now uploaded new data, and we’re now expanding out to further distances away from the south pole to explore the frequency of spiders, baby spider, channel networks, swiss cheese terrain, and boulders.

These observations span latitudes of -70 to -90 N degrees as shown in the figure below. The red shows the outlines of the new CTX images loaded and ready on Planet Four: Terrains, the white is the original set on the site at launch, and the green areas are the locations/images reviewed on the site over the past several months. The new dataset is the only one so far on Planet Four: Terrains  that explores the -70 to -75 N degree latitude ring about the Martian south pole.

past_current_proposed_P4T copy

The science team is working on the first paper from the project based on the white set of images classified  (see above) on the site, and new regions of interest are scheduled to be imaged in higher resolution detail with the HiRISE camera. With more of the south pole surveyed with the classifications Planet Four: Terrains, who knows what we’ll find! Classify an image or two at http://terrains.planetfour.org

Mars Art

Inspired by the images of Swiss Cheese Terrain like these examples below shown on Planet Four: Terrains,  volunteer Albert Laubi (xflyer) made some visually stunning paintings using acrylic, oil, sand on canvas)and shared them on Talk.

swiss_sg

Swiss Cheese Terrain Examples on Planet Four: Terrains

Here’s some words  from Albert:

(Great) Natures forms seen through (excited) human eyes.
Stunned by the variety of shapings that emerge on Mars’ south pole and impressed by the brilliant achievements of scientists, which enables us to make visible things like that even on a far away planet, I got the idea to combine this into a series of pieces containing kinda triple artwork: nature, science and (my) personal perception.

Technically I arranged in Photoshop some parts of similar b/w Mars terrain pictures to a composition, extracted chosen areas for colorizing and texturizing, then put this different layers through all paces, till I had a balance, where I could say: Yeah, let’s paint it! The original size of each painting is 50cm x 50cm.

Check out Albert’s pieces below:

marchromo

Marsic Chromorph I-VI Image Credit:  Albert Laubi

Thank you Albert for sharing your work. If you have any Planet Four or Planet Four: Terrains inspired artwork or poetry, we’d love to share it. Post a link to your work in Planet Four Talk or Planet Four: Terrains Talk