Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Find Your Own Place On the Red Planet

02.06.2009
ASU has teamed with Google to create a new feature in Google Earth 5.0 that lets members of the public suggest places on Mars to photograph with ASU's THEMIS camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.

Arizona State University researchers and scientists have created two new features for Google Earth 5.0, the popular online application that lets users tour Earth, the starry sky, and the Red Planet Mars.

The first of the new features lets anyone, anywhere, recommend places on Mars to photograph with ASU's THEMIS camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. The second new feature shows the most recent infrared images of Mars sent back to Earth from the THEMIS camera.

THEMIS is the Thermal Emission Imaging System, a multiband infrared and visual camera designed at ASU by Dr. Philip Christensen. A Regents' Professor of Geological Sciences in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, Christensen is THEMIS' principal investigator and also director of the Mars Space Flight Facility on the Tempe campus.

"These two features, developed by our staff in cooperation with programmers at Google, will help everyone have a lot more fun exploring the Red Planet," says Christensen. "It's public engagement at its best."

Hey Mars, say cheese!

"We wanted to give the general public a way to suggest places on Mars for THEMIS to photograph," says Christensen. "Using the new feature, people can recommend sites, and these recommendations go to mission scientists who will decide what areas THEMIS images. If a public suggestion matches what the researchers choose, we'll notify the person who suggested the site and let them see the image as soon as we do."

To suggest a place for THEMIS to photograph, viewers need two things: Google Earth 5.0 and a file that is updated each week giving the spacecraft's Mars orbital groundtrack. Google Earth 5.0 is available at http://earth.google.com.

To get the orbital track, users should go to http://suggest.mars.asu.edu and follow the simple steps to register. Registering takes users to a page to download the orbital track file and it also lets them make image suggestions without having to enter an e-mail address with each image suggestion.

Registering also creates a customized page where users can see their past image suggestions and find links to their successful ones.

With the orbital track file downloaded, viewers start Google Earth and switch the globe to Mars (via the Planets toolbar button, which resembles the planet Saturn). Then viewers open the orbital track file from within Google Earth. Viewers can also just double-click on the orbital file once Google Earth has been set to Mars as its planet.

The places where THEMIS can take images during the coming week appear as stripes wrapped onto the Martian globe. Viewers click on stripe segments to recommend places for THEMIS to photograph.

"Each viewer can make up to 10 imaging suggestions per week," says Christian Yates, software engineer at the Mars Space Flight Facility. Yates designed the online interface for the project. If a site picked by a member of the public matches one chosen by the mission scientists, the suggester will be sent a link providing access to the image after it has come from the spacecraft.

Says Yates, "Making 10 image selections a week, a typical viewer will probably get at least one image."

THEMIS takes images at both visual and infrared wavelengths; viewers using Suggest an Image are making recommendations for visual images. These have higher resolutions than THEMIS' infrared ones: 60 feet (18 meters) per pixel versus 330 feet (100 m) per pixel for infrared.

"Taking pictures with an orbiting satellite can be a complicated business, but this tool makes it much easier," says Eric Engle, scientific software engineer at the Mars Space Flight Facility and lead project developer for the ASU team. "We hope people enjoy this chance to participate with us in exploring Mars."

Live From Mars

The ASU team also developed, with Google's programmers, a second new Google Earth feature called Live From Mars. It shows the latest infrared images from THEMIS as soon as the mission team at ASU receives them; look for the new feature among the Mars Gallery layers in Google Earth 5.0.

When the layer is clicked on, viewers see the Martian globe with the most recent THEMIS infrared images displayed on the surface, each flagged with a square symbol. Viewers can zoom in on each image to see details more clearly.

Mousing over the square symbol brings up the image's identification number, and clicking on the symbol opens a bubble window with more information (such as latitude and longitude, and date and time the photo was taken). The bubble also has links to the THEMIS camera site at ASU and NASA's Mars Odyssey site.

THEMIS' designer Christensen notes that both new features let the general public look over the shoulder of Mars researchers - and Suggest an Image in particular offers a potentially unique reward:

"Because the coverage of Mars by THEMIS at visual wavelengths is by no means complete," Christensen says, "some people who recommend an image target could be the first humans ever to see that particular place in such detail."

Two images are available at: http://asunews.asu.edu/20090528_marsphoto

Robert Burnham | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy
21.04.2017 | Stockholm University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>