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NASA is Crowdsourcing Cloud Research--on Mars

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Viewing the Martian sky, assembled from individual images, in order to identify mesospheric clouds.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have recruited volunteers to identify clouds on Mars through the Zooniverse, a platform that hosts crowdsourced citizen projects.

Roughly 2,600 volunteers have joined the Cloudspotting on Mars project so far, using a browser-embedded visualization tool.

Participants use a point-and-click instrument to identify the peaks of any arches in heat maps produced by the Mars Climate Sounder aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

JPL's Marek Slipski and Armin Kleinböhl initially uploaded approximately four-and-a-half months' worth of images to the Cloudspotting Website, and volunteers perused over 6,000 images in just two weeks, identifying three to four clouds per image.

The climate sounder has collected about 16 years' worth of images, and Slipski hopes to use the crowdsourced data to train an algorithm to realize more reliable results.

From Wired
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