Mars is an incredibly interesting place not only for scientists but for casual science lovers and space fans in general. With the Curiosity rover hanging around on the Red Planet’s surface, we’re regularly treated to some really stunning images, but actually participating in the mission isn’t usually possible for the vast majority of us. That just changed.
NASA just launched a new program called AI4Mars that allows anyone and everyone to help guide the Curiosity rover on its journey across the planet. You can access the tool through your web browser, and it’s an incredibly cool way to burn a few minutes while helping further humanity’s knowledge of our nearest Earth-like neighbor.
Now, you won’t be able to actually steer the rover yourself. That would be ridiculous and NASA obviously can’t trust a bunch of random people to make good decisions with its priceless piece of Mars-exploring hardware. However, the AI4Mars tool does let you label various pieces of the Martian terrain. You can label rocks, sand, soil, and other features that the rover should either gravitate toward or attempt to avoid.
Your labels will be fed into a database along with observations from others using the same tool. After crunching all the data, the program should have a consensus on what the rover is seeing. This will help NASA’s Curiosity team and the rover itself to better understand what it sees.