Category Archives: Space participation

Citizen science – recent activity at four projects

I often talk here about the proliferation of citizen science projects. I thought I would scan the blogs of four space related projects at Zooniverse and see what their blogs are talking about these days.

* Planet Hunters –  In this project, participants scan data from the Kepler  space observatory to look for a drop in the brightness of a star when a planet orbits in front of it as seen from our point of view.

What factors impact transit shape – Planet Hunters blog – This post discusses an effort to make simulated transits look more like the real ones.

2012_Transit_of_Venus_from_SFTransit of Venus – Image credit Wikipedia

* Galaxy Zoo – With millions of galaxies to classify, this project takes advantage of the human powers of pattern recognition and lets participants decide into which category a galaxy should go according to its shape and features.

Spiral Galaxies and the Future of Citizen Science: a Live Chat – Galaxy Zoo blog – An online chat show brings “Some of the Galaxy Zoo Science Team” together to “talk about a recent paper on measuring spiral arm features via a computer algorithm, including how it compares to human classifications and what this means for the future of volunteer-driven citizen science.” The “also introduce — and have a bit of fun with — the jargon gong.”

* Moon Zoo – With the thousands of images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, participants classify the myriad types of lunar surface features.

Flying over Taurus-Littrow – Moon Zoo blog – This post points to dramatically lit images of the Taurus-Littrow site where Apollo 17 landed.



* Planet Four – In this project, participants help “find and mark ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ on the Martian surface. Scientists believe that these features indicate wind direction and speed. By tracking ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ over the course of several Martian years to see how they form, evolve, disappear and reform, we can help planetary scientists better understand Mars’ climate.”

to the North! – Planet Four Blog –  The project currently only has image data for the Martian southern hemisphere but they will eventually get northern imagery. A JPL video discusses the features in the north that the project wants to investigate

Mars One obtains its first investments

The Mars One organization, though it recently became a non-profit, wants to fund one-way expeditions to Mars via media sponsorships, reality shows, and other commercial techniques. They released this announcement today:

Mars One Secures First Investments

AMERSFOORT, THE NETHERLANDS, 29 JANUARY 2013 – Interplanetary Media Group, the Mars One daughter company which manages the intellectual property and media associated with the human mission to Mars, has received its first investments. These funds will be used to finance the Conceptual Design Studies and the launch of the global Astronaut Selection Program.

Kai Staats, Director of Business Development for Mars One states, “Organizing a human mission to Mars is a tremendously complex venture. There are many engineering hurdles to overcome and the total funds required are tremendous. Raising a few million [US dollars] in the coming months may seem insignificant in the shadow of the pending billions required, but we are taking it one step at a time. These first few bring tangible demonstration to nearly two years in planning. For us, committed funds in this phase of development are an important indicator we are moving in the right direction.

In the first half of 2013, Mars One will award the Conceptual Design studies to industry suppliers. These are sophisticated engineering bids, technical plans which lay the foundation for the major components such as the transport vehicles, space suits, life support systems and living modules on Mars. These will substantiate the Mission plan with real-world engineering designs and data.

Mars One will also launch the Astronaut Selection Program which immediately, directly involves people from around the world. This is a new paradigm for anyone who is interested to participate in space travel. As Mars One is anticipating hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than one million applicants, the infrastructure required to professionally manage such a process is substantial.

Mars One remains open to additional investors. Interested parties may contact Mars One at

Sloh space camera to webcast super close Moon/Jupiter conjunction

An announcement from the Slooh public membership astronomy enterprise:

Slooh Space Camera to Broadcast Live Feeds
of Super Close Moon /Jupiter Conjunction

On Monday, January 21st, the Moon will appear amazingly close in the sky to the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter. The Waxing Gibbous Moon – the lunar phase between first quarter Moon and a full Moon – will be approximately one degree south of Jupiter appearing to be only a pen width apart. This will be closest conjunction between the two celestial bodies until 2026. Slooh Space Camera will cover the event live on, free to the public, Monday, January 21st at 6:00 PM PST / 9:00 PM EST / 02:00 UTC (1/22) – International times here: – accompanied by real-time discussions with Slooh President, Patrick Paolucci, Astronomy Magazine columnist, Bob Berman, and astro-imager Matt Francis of the Prescott Observatory. Viewers can watch live on their PC or IOS/Android mobile device at t-minus zero.

By good fortune, the Great Red Spot will be traveling across the middle of Jupiter’s disk during Slooh’s live broadcast.

If skies are clear, individuals can view the conjunction by looking at the Moon and finding the brightest star in the sky next to the Moon, which will be Jupiter. Individuals with binoculars or telescope may capture more detail of Jupiter, including some of the satellites.

About Slooh
Slooh is the leader in live, celestial event programming with weekly shows featuring the great wonders of the Universe – shown live by observatories worldwide. SLOOH is powered by its members—men, women and children in 80 countries who have taken 1.8 million photos of 46,000 unique objects and events in the night sky since our launch on Christmas Day, 2003. Slooh’s patented instant imaging technology makes astronomical objects appear in true color and in real time over a 5 to 10 minute time frame.

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Citizen scientists to analyze the surface of Mars

Planet Four is a citizen science project from Zooniverse, which is accumulating a plethoria of projects for public participation:  Scientists need you to analyze unseen images of Mars – Gizmag (via Behind The Black).

Planet Four invites you

to help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the surface of Mars . . . the likes of which don’t exist on Earth. All of the images on this site depict the southern polar region, an area of Mars that we know little about, and the majority of which have never been seen by human eyes before!

The goal is

to find and mark ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ on the Martian surface. Scientists believe that these features indicate wind direction and speed. By tracking ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ over the course of several Martian years to see how they form, evolve, disappear and reform, we can help planetary scientists better understand Mars’ climate. We also hope to find out if these features form in the same spot each year and also learn how they change.

The images come from the NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, which has been circling the Red Planet since 2006 and sending back a continuous stream of images of the surface with its high resolution camera.

time-lapse[1]These timelapse images show a sequence of views of a spider terrain feature that’s
initially covered with about a meter ice (upper left) until it is ice-free (lower right).