The first magazine article about clouds identified by participants in the Cloudspotting on Mars project has been accepted for publication and is now published. available online. The article “Cloudspotting on Mars Citizen Science Project: Seasonal and Spatial Cloud Distribution Observed by the Mars Climate Orbiter” will be published in a special issue of the magazine. Icarus The title is “MRO: 16 Years at Mars.” MRO is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Climate Sounder is an MRO instrument.
This paper presents several cloud maps showing the times and regions where cloudiness was observed. The map reveals several major cloud populations identified with data from volunteers.The mica population contains carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere.2– Ice clouds, clouds that form near the poles, and water ice clouds during the dusty season. Cloud structure follows the pattern of atmospheric “thermal tides,” which are global temperature fluctuations. Clouds are more likely to form in areas where temperatures are lower than average.
The paper also explains the motivation for the project and its setup on Zooniverse. We delve into how the cloud identities created by participants were transformed into a cloud catalog using machine learning. “We would like to thank all Mars Cloudspotting participants for moving this research forward,” said project PI Dr. Marek Slipski, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
There is much more to study in this dataset, and there are many more images available for analysis online. The data for the second Mars year is still only about 50% complete. Data from Mars’ second year will help reveal how changing dust conditions affect cloud formation. If you would like to join us in exploring clouds in Mars’ atmosphere, please visit: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/marek-lipski/cloudspotting-on-mars.
For more information:
Marek Slipski et al, “Cloudspotting on Mars” citizen science project: Seasonal and spatial cloud distribution observed by the Mars Climate Orbiter, Icarus (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2023.115777