NASA needs your assistance to locate obstacles on Mars so that the Curiosity rover can meander through them. An online tool, AI4Mars, is being broadcast on Zooniverse, outlining how people can label the landscape protrusions on the red planet. This move is to help the Curiosity rover explore Mars with ease.
The tool allows the planners to integrate the map into the system of navigation for safe maneuvering. The navigators can now select the path to follow and avoid wrecking the Curiosity rover on rocks.
The tool is like a machine language for marking rock protrusions and ditches on the Martian landscape. The initial step of learning the language is SPOC (Soil Property and Object Classification) to enable the learners to differentiate the various terrains. The reason for the public involvement is to identify capable talents that can detect obstacles on the planet for smooth navigation. This ideology is like mapping roads on the planet Mars.
Hiro Ono, a researcher at Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA (JPL), says that they are confident in a future where the tool can give a warning when the rover’s wheels are about to glide on different surfaces.
In a report, JPL submits that the navigation requires about five planning hours. During this time, they have to draw codes and evaluate them to fit the exploit. Additionally, geologists observe the terrain for safety purposes aside from the coding. Those who plan the flight have to ensure the signal antenna is visible to the earth’s control system for communication of directions. The planners must also consider the penumbra created by obstacles that can interfere with signal reception. This idea is to allow the navigators to measure the distance from the surface that they are covering. NASA says that shadows impede the visibility of landmarks, and therefore they have to mark them through visual odometry.
A JPL planner Stephanie Oij reiterates that they have to map out obstacles in the pathway to assure the safety of the rover as well as the navigators. She adds that the use of AI4Mars tool to label the terrain smoothens their planning and makes their operations efficient.
The tool is crucial for the exploration of Mars by yet another rover known as the Perseverance. This rover’s deployment will be close to August on a voyage to Mars come 2021. The Curiosity rover regularly shares pictures on the tool’s site so that the people can label the terrain for further guidance of the Curiosity rover. In effect, the Perseverance rover will be able to navigate Mars with ease.
Finally, Ono says that they are going to upload pictures taken by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers whose mission to Mars is complete. Additionally, they plan to ensure the language can accommodate other experts like Indians and the French.