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Mars NASA Space Science

NASA Will Crowdsource Its Photos of Mars 66

Posted by timothy
from the find-waldo-win-a-shuttle-main-engine dept.
tedlistens writes "NASA is asking the public to suggest subjects for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, its super powerful camera currently orbiting Mars. Since it arrived there in 2006, the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has seen more success than that lost lander, recording nearly 13,000 observations of Martian terrain, with each image covering dozens of square miles and revealing details as small as a desk. By letting the public in on the Martian photo shoot, scientists aren't just getting more people excited about space exploration. They're hoping that crowdsourcing imaging targets will increase the camera's already bountiful science return. Despite the thousands of pictures already taken, less than 1 percent of the Martian surface has been imaged."
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NASA Will Crowdsource Its Photos of Mars

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  • by Jeff1946 (944062) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @06:55PM (#30839284) Journal

    Remember there is a lot to cover. Mars has a similar land area to Earth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:35AM (#30844984)

    There are already plenty of pictures of those, including even some [nasa.gov] from [nasa.gov] HiRISE [nasa.gov]. Zoom in all you like on those pictures. They are much more detailed than the MGS ones. Contrary to the interpretations of the "Enterprise Mission" guys, these structures are clearly just dunes in the bottom of canyons, as people have previously suggested. They are all over the place on Mars.

    The real problem is, the Enterprise guys don't know how to interpret aerial photography and integrate it with other information very well (e.g., terrain profiles from MOLA) to figure out what the real 3D geometry of surface features are. Basically, if something superficially looks like a "tube" or that it is "transparent glass", to them maybe it is. They often fail to use shadows or other known features properly to figure out the geometry, and invert the shape of things (hence the thinking these things were "tubes" rather than the bottom of valleys). The depth of analysis on that site is quite shallow -- lengthy and wordy, but not very critical. For example, he's simply wrong that you can't have wind blowing along the length of differently-oriented valleys and producing dune patterns that reorient due to the terrain, or even that abruptly cross each other (the dunes don't have to all be active simultaneously. In perpendicular valleys the crosswind may be too weak to move those dunes while the parallel ones are active, and vice-versa). There are all sorts of places where the orientation of dunes on Mars practically bend around the terrain at a surprisingly small scale [nasa.gov]. It is quite common for the dunes to be differently colored from their surroundings because they consist of wind-sorted material -- selective transport of certain mineral grains due to size is common on Earth.

    That being said, sure, why not take a picture of the particular ones the Enterprise Mission interpret as something weird? 100 quatloos says the image will show their interpretation to be wrong.

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