Today we have a guest post by Tim Michaels. Tim is a research scientist at the SETI Institute who studies how the weather and climate of other worlds affects their surface features.
The Planet Four science team has recently been using the catalog of your fan markings to compare to the wind speed and direction estimated by computer calculations of how Mars’ atmosphere moves around. These wind estimates are calculated by a complex computer program known as a mesoscale atmospheric model, very similar to those that forecast the daily weather on Earth. There are no actual wind measurements in the southern polar regions of Mars, so we use these modeled wind estimates to better interpret what your fan markings tell us about the planet’s weather and climate.
The figure below shows an example of the modeled wind estimates near the Manhattan Classic fan site (86.4S, 99.0E) in the early evening at Ls 190. The area shown is about 135 km by 135 km, south is toward the upper right side, and every arrow is about 1.5 km apart (every model gridpoint; the numbers on the sides count these). This area is at the head (top) of the great south polar valley Chasma Australe, and the white topographic contours (in meters) show the upper reaches of that valley running downhill from center right toward the lower left. The arrows show wind direction and speed (arrow length, see the 10 m/s scale in the upper right corner). Wind speed is also indicated by the color of the arrows — cooler colors (like blue and purple) for the slower winds, warmer colors (like red and orange) for the faster winds. The fastest wind speeds in this scene are about 11 m/s.
You can see how the wind directions and speeds vary a lot across this area — those patterns change quite a bit with the time of day, as well. Our preliminary results show that the strong winds from the east near the center of this figure may be related to the formation of the fans in this area. Much more work still needs to be done to better understand what all of your markings of fans and blotches tell us about the winds on Mars, but we wanted to give you a glimpse of what the (invisible) winds that sculpt the fans may look like.
The Planet Four team has participated in a couple of outreach events over the past few months. We wanted to share the links with you.
Michael, Candy, and myself from the core Planet Four team with Zooniverse Co-PI Laura Trouille were featured on a Live Chat/webinar with the Science Friday team today (Monday April 27) . It was great combo of tea discussion, answering questions from the viewers, and demos. You can find the recorded video on Facebook live; https://www.facebook.com/scifri/videos/158389675615673
A few weeks later, I was interviewed on the BBC Sky at Night’s May episode talking about Planet Four and the other projects that make up the Planet Four organization. If you’re living in then UK, the episode is available online for stream in BBC iplayer. It also happened to be the 800th episode of the Sky at Night, and it was also the first episode where all the presenters, Sky at Night crew, and interviewees were all working from home.
In these challenging times, I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone for their contributions to all three Planet Four projects. We appreciate the time, effort, and energy you are contributing.
Greeting from Tucson Arizona. I’m here with Planet Four PI Candy Hansen at the Building the NASA Citizen Science Community Meeting. The aim of the workshop is to bring together researchers engaged in successful citizen science projects, citizen science experts and platforms supporting citizen science projects (including representatives from Zooniverse), the NASA Science Mission Directorate, and researchers interested in applying citizen science to their research problems.
I gave an invited talk (my slides are included below) highlighting science results and the success of Planet Four and advertising Planet Four: Terrains and Planet Four: Ridges. It’s exciting that people in the planetary and astronomical community see Planet Four as a successful project. That is in large part due to the contributions of the Planet Four volunteer community. It was great to talk about Planet Four’s first paper and also mention the science team is working on three other publications right now based on the first fan and blotch catalog.
Dear fellow Planet-Four-ians,
It is my great pleasure to announce that the Icarus journal has accepted our paper “Planet Four: Probing Springtime Winds on Mars by Mapping the Southern Polar CO2 Jet Deposits” for publication!
The edits requested by the reviewers were minor, we addressed what we thought was appropriate for the already huge scope this paper tries to encompass and the editors agreed to our submitted revision. I have also updated the arXiv preprint version with that submitted revision and it is now available in its final “content” form here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.10341. We publicly acknowledge everyone who contributed to the classifications that went into this paper and gave us their permission to use their name on the page https://www.planetfour.org/authors.
We now have entered the phase of typesetting the article where the formatting towards the style of the journal is happening and things like placement of figures is being decided on.
Next in line of activities for Planet Four is waiting for the selection of NASA’s Solar System Workings proposals, where we submitted in spring to receive funding for a deeper exploitation of the results of Planet Four and to use it to guide the creation of a geophysical model of CO2 jets. We expect that the selections are made in the first half of September, according to recent information we have received.
Fingers crossed that we can continue further together on this exciting venture!
Tag an image or two at https://planetfour.org !
Southern Spring is coming to Mars very soon. May 22nd marks the official start of Spring at the Martian South Pole. We’ve been busy reducing the most recent sets of classifications from Planet Four: Terrains looking for new spider locales to target when the HiRISE and CaSSIS seasonal campaign starts. The CaSSIS camera is a recent addition to Mars, aboard the European ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). It takes slightly higher resolution images than the CTX, whose images we show on the Planet Four: Terrains website. CaSSIS is designed for stereo imaging which is key for measuring depths and heights of features. Also unlike CTX, CaSSIS is equipped with several filters so color images can be made. Even with the addition of CaSSIS, the decade old HiRISE remains the highest resolution imager (~30 cm/pixel) in action around the Red Planet.
The PI of Planet Four: Terrains, Candy Hansen is a member of the HiRISE and CaSSIS science teams , and can ask for images to be potentially taken of the Solar Polar region if we find something interesting worthy of followup observations. We’ve asked for a few additional candidate spider locations (plotted below between -70 and -75 degrees latitude) outside of the South Polar Layered Deposits to be imaged if the observations can be squeezed into these cameras’ packed schedules. If confirmed in the higher resolution images, these will be the furthest spider identifications from the South Pole. Fingers crossed we’ll get some more detailed images of these places over the coming months.
Thanks for all your help. We plan to have new images on the Planet Four: Terrains site by the start of Southern Spring, so stay tuned!
We wanted to give a quick update on the original Planet Four. Michael Aye has been leading the development of the data analysis pipeline. As previously mentioned, we’ve hit a major milestone with completing the fan clustering algorithm for combining your classifications together. We think we’ve now hit that point for finalizing the blotch clustering algorithm.
We think we’ve now got a decent solution for addressing how to cluster very large blotches that take up half the image and very small blotches that are the default blotch circle size. Currently how we’re tackling this is clustering with one linking radius for the center of the blotch markings, and then we run the analysis again using a much larger linking radius. Here’s an example output:
This blotch clustering strategy seems to be a good compromise for our science goals and needs. We’re going to review several more test cases and if all goes well with this step, we will freeze development on the clustering pipeline. That’s one of the last hurdles to applying the pipeline to all of your classifications and dive into what the shapes and sizes and directions of the fans and blotches tell us about the seasonal carbon dioxide jet process and the surface winds in the Martian South Polar region.
Thanks to all your help, we’ve completed the review of the Season 4 observations of Giza, Ithaca, and Macclesfield. We have new observations from Season 1 from a two different areas around the South Pole now uploaded and live on the site. These areas are nicknamed Starfish and Caterpillar for the spider morphology that have been seen in those areas. Caterpillar is much further away from the South Pole than some of the areas you’ve reviewed here before.
It will great to see how the numbers and sizes of fans and blotches in these two areas compare to Manhattan, Macclesfield, Inca City, Ithaca, and Giza. Dive into these new images today at http://www.planetfour.org
Over the past many months you’ve been reviewing Season 1 observations of areas nicknamed Macclesfield, Giza, and Ithaca. We’ve now finished the current set of data live on the site. We’ve recently prepared and uploaded Season 4 observations of Giza, Ithaca, and Macclesfield so that we can see how the carbon dioxide jet and fan formation processes evolve over several Mars years in these areas.
Thanks for all of your help, we couldn’t do this without you. The clustering algorithm to combine all of your markings together is nearly finished. We’re making hopefully the last tweaks and improvements. This means that over the next six months to a year we’ll be able to compare the results from your classifications of these new images to Manhattan and Inca City, where we already have four Mars years of HiRISE images classified on Planet Four.
Dive into these new images today at http://www.planetfour.org
We started Planet Four: Terrains with the main goal of finding new regions to study during the upcoming seasonal processes HiRISE campaign. The idea was to have people scour low resolution Context Camera (CTX) images for terrains indicative of sculpting during the seasonal processes produced by never-ending cycle of carbon dioxide ice being deposited on the surface in the winter and that ice sublimating in the spring and summer. We would then select a portion of those areas for further study with high-resolution imaging with HIRISE. With the varied textures of the Martian surface it would be difficult for a machine to do this task, but the human brain is well suited to this task.
We launched Planet Four: Terrains at the end of June as part of the launch of the Zooniverse’s new citizen science platform and project builder portal. Planet Four: Terrains had little less than a year to review 90 full frame CTX images divided into 20,122 subimages or subjects as their known on the website. With your help, the project was able to get through all 20,122 subjects in time, and even put in more images. Thanks to your classifications and Talk discussions, the science team was able to come up with a list of images and locations for further study. We aim to have the HiRSE camera point at these locations and snap images. Some of these locations will be monitored throughout the Southern spring and summer. Right now these locations have been entered in the HiRISE target database. This means that Planet Four: Terrains has successfully achieved one of its prime goals!
Now, Candy Hansen, PI of the project and head of the seasonal processes campaign with HiRISE, will prioritize our targets with the rest of the regions that the HiRISE team wants to study. The first of these should with any luck get images in the next few months. We’ll keep you updated here on the blog.The final list of targets from Planet Four: Terrains is a mix of locations found on Talk and through the classification interface. We’ll have more details as we get closer to the start of Southern spring (July 5th), but we wanted to share one of the new locales,spotted thanks to the volunteer contributions on Planet Four: Terrains, that will be imaged by HiRISE. This specific region shown above was highlighted on Talk. It was noticed by the science team, and we agree it is an interesting area to look at how spiders develop. We’re interested to see how the seasonal fans and blotches over the coming Martian Southern spring and summer. We’re currently planning a sequence of images at this location. CTX has a resolution of 6-8 meters per pixel. HiRISE has a resolution of 30 centimeters per pixel, so we’ll get to see a lot more detail particularly in the structure of the spider channels than what’s current visible in the CTX image above.
This isn’t the end of the project, we’re really just getting stared. Because of your classifications, we’ve found spiders in interesting and potentially unexpected regions so we’ve decided to keep the project going with new locations to review. Help today at http://terrains.planetfour.org