NASA wants people to help label thousands of photos from Mars taken by their rovers. The labels will be used to train a computer system (AI4Mars) to identify the different Martian ground surfaces which will help NASA’s Curiosity rover drivers to better navigate Mars.
“You may now be able to help NASA’s Curiosity rover drivers to better navigate Mars. Using the online tool AI4Mars to label terrain features in pictures downloaded from the Red Planet, you can train an artificial intelligence algorithm to automatically read the landscape.”
What is NASA’s Curiosity rover?
The NASA Curiosity rover is a car sized &very capable rover which landed on Mars in August 2012 to explore the crater Gale in Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL).
Terrain is an important aspect to get around Mars. Spirit, one of NASA’s Mars exploration rover’s got stuck in a sand trap in 2009 & lost it’s battery power thereby ending it’s mission after 7 long years.
NASA doesn’t want the same fate to befall on the Curiosity rover. 8 years on the rough & sandy terrain of Mars has already caused a fair amount of wear & tear to its tires. Curiosity has also gotten stuck in sand, but luckily it is still able to continue on it’s mission.
NASA has tied up with Zooniverse, & together they have set up a site called AI4Mars which “invites citizen scientists to help in label its database of images captured by Mars rovers so that they collectively create the Solar System’s first public benchmark for Martian terrain classification, helping NASA’s rovers to drive safely for longer periods of time.”
NASA’s next mission is to launch the Perseverance Mars rover over the summer of 2020. The Perseverance rover will collect samples of of ancient life via rocks & soil to answer a key question of astrobiology – Are there any signs that life once existed on Mars?
Information Credit: NASA, Zooniverse.