NASA Invites You to "Be a Martian" & Explore the Red Planet's Terrain

By Eliza Strickland | November 19, 2009 1:05 pm

be-a-martianWith NASA’s manned space flight program in tumult, it’s an open question when/if human boots will tramp on Martian soil. But the space agency has provided a virtual way for humans to explore the red planet, with its new “Be a Martian” program.

The online project, a collaboration between NASA and Microsoft, enlists the power of crowdsourcing. Users are invited to sort through the hundreds of thousands of photos of Mars that have been sent back by rovers and orbiters. To convince people to spend hours pouring over pictures of dusty Martian landscapes, two tasks have been set up as games where participants can win points and badges. One game asks people to count craters in photos of Mars; the other asks people to match small, high-res photos of the Martian surface with their corresponding locations on a low-res photo taken from a higher altitude [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]. (You’ll need to have Microsoft’s Silverlight application for the games and videos on the site to work.)

By enlisting citizen scientists, NASA hopes to both interest students in space careers and to make real progress in Martian research. “We really need the next generation of explorers,” says Michelle Viotti, from the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which oversees Mars missions. “And we’re also accomplishing something important for Nasa. There’s so much data coming back from Mars. Having a wider crowd look at the data, classify it and help understand its meaning is very important” [BBC News].

Related Content:
80beats: Crowdsourced Astronomy Project Discovers “Green Pea” Galaxies
80beats: Mars Rover Will Try Daring Escape From Sand Trap of Doom
80beats: Would A Mission to Mars Drive Astronauts Insane? Six Earth-Bound Volunteers Aim to Find Out.
80beats: Buzz Aldrin Speaks Out: Forget the Moon, Let’s Head to Mars

Image: JPL / Microsoft

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space, Technology


  • Harpreet

    Hey! Will they acknowledge the effort of a person somehow who puts in time and hard work for Mars Mapping and Counting Craters?

  • LINO


  • http://CR4 Carl Pickhardt

    Beware the Barsoomians!
    The next time I am confined to a hospital bed, I would love to play. Barring that (hopefully) I would want to concentrate on the poles, arroyos, and any other anomalies.
    Participants should be encouraged to read Kim Stanly Robinsons; “Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars Trilogy. This is where my grandson needs to go. The moon, “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” (R.E Hienlien) is otherwise a waste of time, unless there is water there to fractionate into fuel or life sustaining liquid.
    I have been following this for 50 years. The kids need to catch up on what I consider to be the most importand decision of our lifetime. To Mars we will go. How it happens will depend on them.

  • tsim

    The moon has water.
    The moon also has H3,lots of it.
    Probably the most valuable element in the universe at the present time.
    It is the source of our next energy evolution to fusion energy.
    Why do you think everyone is so much in a hurry to get there all of a sudden?
    As for the Hienlien book, the justice system was far superior to uor present one.

  • Supriya

    hey,will they admire the effort of a person…

  • http://bishweb Bishwabidya

    Hi! I’m a music lover and composser. When I try to compossed a new tune I always use to wait till the moon is in front of my face. I understain how the univers in nessesry in every perposs. And one think, in this running period man know why “pluto” reject from the title planet.

  • Angie

    I wonder what projects are planned concerning this planet in the future? Anyway, I think you guys are doing the right thing. Live your dreams!

  • Barry Le Roux

    With the enconomy the way it is NASA needs private scientific volunteers, this is a good idea,and one that makes interested individuals feel part of history in the making, let the enthusists help with what would normally be expensive mundane research

  • milind.rajpoot

    mars is also called the red planet and i have discovered mars in google earth .

  • Cigarette electronique

    the extreme? tops the volcano

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