Cool Toys Pic of the Day – Planet Four

Planet Four:

Citizen science! Mars! Zooniverse! NEW!!!

I didn’t know it was knew. I thought I’d just missed it when it came out. Then I checked their blog, which said:

“The project has only been running for one day, and you’re already finding interesting things in the images you’re classifying.” January 9, 2013

Oh! I just opened it yesterday, and that was the first day. So you can hear about it here. Except, well, there ARE a lot of folk who already know.

“18,181 participants worldwide
584,816 MRO images classified
With the help of Stargazing Live, 18,181 citizen scientists are exploring the surface of Mars like never before.”

I was pretty excited. I showed it to my kid. First image I showed him, he said, “That looks like leather, doesn’t it?” The second one, he asked, “Is that Mars? No, That picture right there. Is that REALLY Mars? Mars looks like Texas.”

I guess they are trying to figure out how Mars is different from Texas? Here is what they say they are looking for.

In their words:
“We need your help to find and mark ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ on the Martian surface. Scientists believe that these features indicate wind direction and speed. By tracking ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ over the course of several Martian years to see how they form, evolve, disappear and reform, we can help planetary scientists better understand Mars’ climate. We also hope to find out if these features form in the same spot each year and also learn how they change.”

How to do it? What do they expect? How do you play the game? Well, here’s a tutorial.

Planet Four: Welcome (Classify):


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