Day 217 – Mars Rover Project

This title makes it seem like I’ve been doing bigger things than I have! With that being said, spending the afternoon looking at pictures of Mars was pretty cool.

I’ve written about Zooniverse before, an online volunteering programme I’ve used to monitor penguin numbers, and transcribe anti-slavery letters, and think it’s a fantastic resource to help research projects from afar. Some are small scale, but then you get ones like today’s Mars Rover project and come from NASA themselves.

The Mars Perseverance Rover launched into space just last week, aiming to land on Mars in February of next year. The aim is to use the rover to gain more information about the planet without it hitting the problems that halted previous missions, such as the Spirit rover that got stuck in sand and unable to move – only after an impressive seven years on the planet though!

The Mars Rover Project involves volunteers classifying different Mars terrain from pictures taken by previous rovers. The rovers operate similarly to a self-driving car (or bus) in that it assesses what’s in front of to see if it can keep going forward or not. By classifying the pictures we would be helping to train the rover’s artificial intelligence of areas to avoid.

Classifying terrain on Mars

As you can see from the above picture, it’s a very simple job, and you can easily get through a lot of pictures in a short amount of time.

I found these really interesting at first so managed to go through a good chunk of photos before they all started to look the same. I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t spot any little green men!

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