Take a virtual drive in a Mars Rover

Illustration for article titled Take a Virtual Drive in Mars Mars Rover

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If you’ve ever aspired to be a real-life Mark Watney, collecting samples of rocks and dirt on Mars, now is your chance. With NASA AI4Mars projectYou can take a virtual journey around the red planet in the Curiosity rover.

Simulation designed by a team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, asks users to helps classify Martian terrain. It will tag the images taken by Curiosity from the surface of Mars (like sand or bedrock, for example), and the scientists will use the crowdsourcing data to train a future rover to better navigate around dangerous obstacles.

Mars rovers tend to get stuck in the sand, and sometimes cannot get out, so the project aims to make rovers like driverless cars. To explore space without a human crew, vehicles must know “where it is safe to drive, land, sleep, and hibernate.”

When you open the classification tool, you will be prompted to select different types of surface (rocks or soil) and note areas of a surface image using a drawing tool that includes your choice terrain type Once you have identified everything in the image, select “Done” to proceed to the next photo.

Illustration for article titled Take a Virtual Drive in Mars Mars Rover

Screenshot: Emily Long

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There is a useful tutorial popover (click “Tutorial”) and a discussion board where you can ask questions or troubleshoot the tool.

This same concept of crowdsourcing has been used to train neural networks in urban landscapes and house numbers on Earth.

To be clear, you won’t actually be pilotage Curiosity around the Martian surface, even virtually-this is It is not a video game. But you be take a close look at the surface of Mars and contribute to scientific discovery at the same time.