NASA is Crowdsourcing Cloud Research—on Mars

Space enthusiasts across the globe can now help NASA in cloud research.

Marek Slipski, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was looking for clouds image of the Martian atmosphere . 

Even though he'd written up algorithm to complete his task, the results were no accurate and required manual efforts.

The process of digging through images and zooming in, adjusting the contrast, upping the brightness, and playing around with color became time-consuming and overwhelming.

Coincidentally, NASA just launched its call for a Citizen Science Seed Grant program, which offers space enthusiasts the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research.

Slipski and JPL’s atmospheric physicist Armin Kleinböhl immediately began developing proposals.

After weeks of beta testing, in late June, the Cloudspotting on Mars project launched on Zooniverse, a platform that hosts hundreds of citizen projects. 

So far about 2,600 volunteers have joined the effort, introducing themselves on the forums and digging into the climate sounder’s maps of the atmosphere at different heights, locations, and times of day.

Participants need only a computer and internet access to contribute, since the data is viewed using a browser-embedded visualization tool that comes with a quick, optional tutorial.