A Message from the PI

Today we have a post by Dr. Candice (Candy) Hansen, principal investigator (PI) of Planet Four. Dr. Hansen also serves as the Deputy Principal Investigator for HiRISE (the camera providing the images of spiders, fans, and blotches seen on the site). She is also a Co-Investigator on the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph on the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn. Additionally she is a  member of the science team for the Juno mission to Jupiter. Dr. Hansen is responsible for the development and operation of  JunoCam, an outreach camera that will involve the public in planning images of Jupiter.

Dear Citizen Science Colleagues,

I have been lurking on the chat pages and reading your comments and thoroughly enjoying this whole experience.  It is hard to believe that just last December Arfon and I were still drawing diagrams on napkins.  Now we have a Zooniverse project underway!

Anya and Michael and I have been discussing this project for several years; Meg and I actually discussed this concept when she was still a graduate student.  We were always daunted by the sheer amount of image processing we would have to do.

So now with all of your help we will be able to move forward.  The spring season on Mars is a very non-terrestrial experience, as you have seen as you’ve looked at the images.  The channels we see carved in the surface are there because the dry ice seasonal polar cap goes directly from solid to gas, and that pressurized gas erodes the surface.   The eroded surface material is carried up out onto the surface of the seasonal ice and is deposited in the fans that you have been identifying and measuring.

We want to learn more about this unearthly process, so with your help we will now be able to calculate our first result – the number of fans that erupt as the spring goes by.  The overall number of fans as time passes records the level of activity as the overlying ice thickness and level of sunlight changes.

Our objectives that are associated with understanding the weather in the spring will take longer to tease out.  We will keep you posted as we make progress.

When an image cutout has been reviewed by 100 people it is retired.  At this point you have completed the analysis of 34% of the 42,903 image cutouts.  75% of the cutouts have been reviewed by more than 50 people.

You have been analyzing images from the second and third spring seasons observed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.   We will have images from the first spring ready to go soon, and those from year 4 in another month or two.

We have ideas for other projects – we hope you will continue to enjoy working with us.  Your effort and enthusiasm are really an inspiration to us!


Dr. Candice Hansen

About The Zooniverse

Online citizen science projects. The Zooniverse is doing real science online,.

One response to “A Message from the PI”

  1. darshan chandekar says :

    its been a fantastic experience and learning… and what an initiative… so futuristic…. so fantastic.. so involving … so educating… wish kids and students get into something like this at early ages

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: