An innovative artificial intelligence (AI) tool developed by NASA has helped identify a cluster of craters on Mars that formed within the last decade. The new machine-learning algorithm, an automated fresh impact crater classifier, was created by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California -- and represents the first time artificial intelligence has been used to identify previously unknown craters on the Red Planet, according to a statement from NASA. Scientists have fed the algorithm more than 112,000 images taken by the Context Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The program is designed to scan the photos for changes to Martian surface features that are indicative of new craters. In the case of the algorithm's first batch of finds, scientists think these craters formed from a meteor impact between March 2010 and May 2012.
The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this image of a crater cluster on Mars, the first ever to be discovered by artificial intelligence (AI). NASA said, "These craters were created by several pieces of a single meteor. The largest of the craters is about 13 feet (4 meters) wide. In total, the craters span about 100 feet (30 meters) of the red planet's surface. The craters were found in a region called Noctis Fossae, located at latitude -3.213, longitude 259.415."
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera captured this impact crater on Mars. On July 15, 1965, the Mariner 4 spacecraft snapped a series of photographs of Mars during its flyby of the Red Planet. These were the first "close-up" images taken of another planet from outer space, according to NASA. One of these first grainy photographs depicted a massive crater nearly 100 miles in diameter. Now, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is tapping artificial intelligence (AI) to help with its cosmic cartography efforts, using these technologies to identify "fresh craters" on Mars.
A team of planetary scientists and AI researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California tapped artificial intelligence to identify fresh craters on Mars. The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spotted the craters. AI technology first discovered the craters in images taken the orbiter's Context Camera, then scientists followed up with the HiRISE image to confirm the craters. The accomplishment offers hope for both saving times and accelerating the volume of findings, as noted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. According to the laboratory, scientists typically spend hours each day studying images captured by NASA's MRO, looking for changing surface phenomena like dust devils, avalanches, and shifting dunes.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been surveying strange "spider-like" surface features on Mars for years, and now citizen scientists are helping the orbiter hone in on areas that require further investigation. These prominent surface features are found near Mars' south pole, and are believed to be linked to seasonal changes. The planet's polar ice caps thaw bottom-side first in the spring, causing carbon dioxide to build up and carve deep channels in the terrain, according to a statement from NASA. "The trapped carbon dioxide gas that carves the spiders in the ground also breaks through the thawing ice sheet. It lofts dust and dirt that local winds then sculpt into hundreds of thousands of dark fans that are observed from orbit," Meg Schwamb, a planetary scientist from the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, said in the statement.