January 26, 2023

Help NASA Solve a Fundamental Martian Mystery

NASAs Curiosity Mars rover captured these clouds simply after sunset on March 19, 2021, the 3,063 rd Martian day, or sol, of the rovers mission. The clouds are wandering over “Mont Mercou,” a cliff face that Curiosity studied.
Find Clouds on Mars to Help NASA Scientists
By spotting clouds in data gathered by NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the public can increase researchers understanding of the Red Planets atmosphere.
NASA scientists intend to split a fundamental secret about Mars atmosphere, and you can help. Theyve arranged a brand-new job called Cloudspotting on Mars that welcomes the general public to recognize Martian clouds using the person science platform Zooniverse. The data may help researchers figure out why the worlds atmosphere is simply 1% as dense as Earths, in spite of adequate evidence that suggests the world utilized to have a much thicker atmosphere.
On Mars, the air pressure is so low that liquid water just vaporizes from the worlds surface into the environment. Billions of years earlier, lakes and rivers covered the world, recommending the environment must have been thicker then.

How did Mars lose its atmosphere gradually? According to one theory, different systems could be lofting water high into the environment, where solar radiation breaks those water molecules down into hydrogen and oxygen (water, H2O, is made from two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom). Hydrogen is light enough that it could then wander off into space.
Cloudspotting on Mars asks members of the general public to try to find arches such as this one in data gathered by NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Like Earth, Mars has actually clouds composed of water ice. Unlike Earth, it likewise has actually clouds made of carbon dioxide (think: dry ice), which form when it gets cold enough for the Martian environment to freeze locally. By understanding where and how these clouds appear, scientists hope to much better understand the structure of Mars middle environment, which has to do with 30 to 50 miles (50 to 80 kilometers) in elevation.
” We wish to learn what triggers the formation of clouds– specifically water ice clouds, which could teach us how high water vapor gets in the environment– and during which seasons,” said Marek Slipski, a postdoctoral scientist at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
Thats where Cloudspotting on Mars can be found in. The project revolves around a 16-year record of information from the companys Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has actually been studying the Red Planet because 2006. The spacecrafts Mars Climate Sounder instrument research studies the atmosphere in infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye. In measurements taken by the instrument as MRO orbits Mars, clouds appear as arches. The group needs aid sorting through that information on Zooniverse, marking the arches so that the scientists can more effectively study where in the environment they occur.
” We now have over 16 years of data for us to browse through, which is extremely important– it lets us see how temperatures and clouds change over various seasons and from year to year,” said Armin Kleinboehl, Mars Climate Sounders deputy principal investigator at JPL. “But its a great deal of information for a little team to browse.”
While researchers have actually explore algorithms to identify the arches in Mars Climate Sounder information, its much easier for people to spot them by eye. However Kleinboehl said the Cloudspotting job may also help train much better algorithms that could do this work in the future. In addition, the job includes periodic webinars in which individuals can speak with scientists about how the data will be utilized.
Cloudspotting on Mars is the first planetary science project to be funded by NASAs Citizen Science Seed Funding program. The project is performed in collaboration with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences. For more NASA citizen science chances, go to science.nasa.gov/ citizenscience.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, leads the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission– in addition to the Mars Climate Sounder instrument– for NASAs Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

NASAs Curiosity Mars rover captured these clouds simply after sundown on March 19, 2021, the 3,063 rd Martian day, or sol, of the rovers mission. Theyve arranged a brand-new project called Cloudspotting on Mars that welcomes the public to identify Martian clouds using the citizen science platform Zooniverse. Like Earth, Mars has clouds composed of water ice. By understanding where and how these clouds appear, researchers hope to much better understand the structure of Mars middle environment, which is about 30 to 50 miles (50 to 80 kilometers) in elevation.
In measurements taken by the instrument as MRO orbits Mars, clouds appear as arches.

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