This series of images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter successively zooms into "spider" features -- or channels carved in the surface in radial patterns -- in the south polar region of Mars. In a new citizen-science project, volunteers will identify features like these using wide-scale images from the orbiter. Their input will then help mission planners decide where to point the orbiter's high-resolution camera for more detailed views of interesting terrain.
Volunteers will start with images from the orbiter's Context Camera (CTX), which provides wide views of the Red Planet. The first two images in this series are from CTX; the top right image zooms into a portion of the image at left. The top right image highlights the geological spider features, which are carved into the terrain in the Martian spring when dry ice turns to gas. By identifying unusual features like these, volunteers will help the mission team choose targets for the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, which can reveal more detail than any other camera ever put into orbit around Mars. The final image is this series (bottom right) shows a HiRISE close-up of one of the spider features.
Information about how to participate is at the "Planet Four: Terrains" website, at http://terrains.planetfour.org.
With CTX, HiRISE and four other instruments, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been investigating Mars since 2006. The mission launched on Aug. 12, 2005, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates CTX. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colorado. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the orbiter and collaborates with JPL to operate it.
For additional information about the project, visit http://mars.nasa.gov/mro.