NASA's new project lets you take a simulated ride in a Mars rover

Help future Mars rovers better navigate the red planet's treacherous terrain.

Mars rover
NASA/JPL-Caltech
  • NASA just announced its AI4Mars project, which lets you can take a virtually simulated tour around Mars via the Curiosity rover.
  • The simulation project is calling on users to help the rover better classify the planet's sometimes dangerous terrain by labeling images taken by Curiosity.
  • This project gives you a chance to participate in enhancing the new machine learning approaches for exploring Mars and unveiling its secrets.

If you've ever wanted a close-up experience of what it's like to roam on Mars' surface, now is your chance. NASA just announced its AI4Mars project, which lets you can take a virtually simulated tour around the Red Planet via the Curiosity rover.

Improving future rovers

Designed by a team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the simulation project is calling on users to help the rover better classify the planet's sometimes dangerous terrain. Your task is to identify and label images taken by Curiosity from Mars' surface for scientists to use. The crowdsourced data will help train a future rover to more safely navigate obstacles like bedrocks or sand.

Mars rovers have an unfortunate habit of getting stuck in sand traps, and sometimes never getting out, as was the tragic fate of NASA's Spirit Rover. The project hopes to make future rovers similar to self-driving vehicles that know "where it's safe to drive, land, sleep and hibernate," according to the website.

How it works

When you open the classification tool on the website, you're instructed to select different surface types — sand, soil, bedrock, and big rocks — using a polygon drawing tool designated for the type of terrain you are labeling. After you've identified everything in the image, you click "Done" to move on to the next photo and do it again. If you aren't sure about an object, the website asks you to leave it unlabeled. It also asks you not to overlap the polygons. If you get confused, click "Tutorial" to open a popover and a discussion board where you can ask questions.

You won't get to virtually control Curiosity around the surface of Mars like a video game. But this project does give you a chance to get an intimate look at the planet's surface and enhance the new machine learning approaches for exploring mars and unveiling its secrets.

Similar projects calling on volunteers to help with scientific research can be found at Zooniverse's project page. For example, you can help researchers find asteroids in images from the Hubble Space Telescope, or help Seismologists by listening for Earthquakes using technology that makes seismic waves audible.

90,000-year-old human hybrid found in ancient cave

Researchers have just discovered the remains of a hybrid human.

Researchers in a chamber of the Denisova cave in Siberia, where the fossil of a Denisova 11 was discovered. CreditIAET SB RAS, Sergei Zelensky
Surprising Science

90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

Keep reading Show less

The 10 most influential women in tech right now

These thought leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs are propelling the kind of future we want to be a part of.

Kimberly Bryant (left) , Joanna Stern (middle) ,and Susan Wojcicki (right)

Credit: Flickr, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch
Technology & Innovation
  • The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
  • The women on this list are founders of companies dedicated to teaching girls to code, innovators in the fields of AI, VR, and machine learning, leading tech writers and podcasters, and CEOs of companies like YouTube and Project Include.
  • This list is by no means all-encompassing. There are many more influential women in tech that you should seek out and follow.

Keep reading Show less

Study: 33% of people fantasize about being in a sexually open relationship

Most said they want to act on their desire someday. But do open relationships actually work?

Credit: Pixabay
Sex & Relationships
  • The study involved 822 Americans who were in monogamous relationships at the time.
  • Participants answered questions about their personalities, sexual fantasies, and intentions to act on those fantasies.
  • Research suggests practicing consent, comfort, and communication makes open relationships more likely to succeed.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain

Teen popularity linked to increased depression in adolescence, decreased depression in adulthood

The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthood and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast