NASA wants you to help spot clouds on Mars because it can reveal THIS big secret

As NASA aims to collate 16 years of data on the atmosphere of Mars, and it is asking for people’s help to spot clouds on the red planet. This data can reveal a big secret about the planet.

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 13:26 IST
NASA is trying to spot clouds on Mars and is asking for everyone’s help to help find them. And this data can be crucial in knowing more about the red planet. (NASA)
NASA is trying to spot clouds on Mars and is asking for everyone’s help to help find them. And this data can be crucial in knowing more about the red planet. (NASA)

NASA is counting clouds on Mars and wants you to join them. Yes, the American space agency has undertaken a seemingly silly but extremely important project where it will be analysing the data collected by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). A significant amount of the data collected over a period of 16 years revolves around the red planet's atmosphere. NASA is trying to find out the reason behind the low density of Martian atmosphere and the key to it is cloudspotting. But here is the challenge: The data cannot be analysed through software and has to be sorted manually. So, if you want to help NASA in developing a better understanding of Mars, you can participate in this project and help out as well. Read on to know more about it.

Explaining the venture in a post, NASA stated that it is inviting people to join its ‘Cloudspotting on Mars' project where they can help identify the clouds on Mars using a citizen science platform called Zooniverse. If you are an astronomy enthusiast and have a bit of free time, then head over to this link and participate in the crowdsourced project.

NASA to study the atmosphere of Mars by spotting clouds

The Martian atmosphere has always confused scientists because while there is evidence that it used to be thicker in the past, at present the atmosphere of Mars is just 1% as dense as the Earth's. We know rivers and lakes existed once on the red planet but today due to the low air pressure, it simply evaporates instantly. There are theories to explain it. One popular theory suggests that due to various mechanisms, all existing water was pulled high in the atmosphere where the solar radiation broke it down to hydrogen and oxygen, and as hydrogen is light, it drifted off in space.

And this is where the project comes in. Scientists know that Mars still has clouds. Some of them are made up of water ice, some are made up of carbon dioxide. Understanding the formation, movement and pattern of these clouds will help scientists in figuring out the present and the past of Mars' middle atmosphere.

“We want to learn what triggers the formation of clouds – especially water ice clouds, which could teach us how high water vapour gets in the atmosphere – and during which seasons,” said Marek Slipski, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

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First Published Date: 29 Jun, 11:27 IST