You can help NASA train Mars rovers for the Red Planet

You can help NASA make its Mars rovers even higher explorers.

NASA is asking citizen scientists to label “features of scientific interest in imagery taken by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.” The mission — referred to as AI4Mars, and hosted on Zooniverse — continues work initiated final year with the Curiosity rover that ended up producing an object-classifying algorithm.

“Images from Perseverance will further improve [the algorithm] by expanding the kinds of identifying labels that can be applied to features on the Martian surface,” officers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which manages the missions of each Curiosity and Perseverance, wrote in a statement

“AI4Mars now provides labels to identify more refined details, allowing people to choose options like float rocks (“islands” of rocks) or nodules (BB-size balls, often formed by water, of minerals that have been cemented together),” the officers added.

Related: Where to find the latest Mars photos from NASA’s Perseverance rover

The software produced by way of the Curiosity imagery known as SPOC (Soil Property and Object Classification). It was primarily based upon work through which folks labeled almost half 1,000,000 photos, outlining options like sand and rock. The software is getting such options proper 98% of the time, and rover drivers are already utilizing SPOC to plan Red Planet routes, JPL officers stated. 

Perseverance has 23 cameras and sends dozens to a whole lot of photos to Earth every day. Mission group members want to cut back the time between when the photos are obtained and when directions are uploaded to Perseverance from its groups. This can take hours, as a result of engineers and geologists search the pictures for particular options of curiosity in addition to terrain that could be hazardous for the rover to traverse.

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“It’s not possible for any one scientist to look at all the downlinked images with scrutiny in such a short amount of time, every single day,” Vivian Sun, a JPL scientist who helps coordinate Perseverance’s day by day operations and consulted on the AI4Mars mission, stated in the identical assertion. “It would save us time if there was an algorithm that could say, ‘I think I saw rock veins or nodules over here,’ and then the science team can look at those areas with more detail.”

In the additional future, labeling such geologic options might additionally help with the ongoing search for life on Mars, which features a vary of rover, orbiter and pattern return spacecraft all anticipated to achieve the Red Planet in the coming decade.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.  

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