Scientists need you to analyze unseen images of MarsSubmitted by Bob-45 on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 04:01
By James Holloway
January 15, 2013
With the creation of new citizen science website Planet Four, planetary scientists are turning to the general public for help in analyzing images of the surface of Mars, many of which have never been seen before. It's hoped that the public's input will help develop a detailed picture of winds on the planet.
The images were captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and are limited to Mars' southern polar region (an effort to keep the workload manageable).
That task at hand is to identify and mark dark "fans" and "blotches," intriguing surface features the origin of which scientists can only speculate upon. The prevailing hypothesis is that, during the Martian autumn, a layer of carbon dioxide ice forms at the south pole. Come spring, sunlight penetrates the ice (which became translucent over the winter), heating the ground beneath it, causing the ice to sublimate (i.e. transform directly from solid to gas) from beneath. With gas accumulating at ever increasing pressure, and the ice sheet thinning from below, the ice inevitably cracks. When it does, gas erupts from the fissure like a geyser, taking loose surface material with it.