You can help NASA train Mars rovers for the Red Planet

NASA can use your help to make its Mars rovers better explorers.
NASA wants citizen scientists to identify "features of scientific importance" in images taken by NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover. AI4Mars is a project hosted on Zooniverse. It continues work that was started last year using the Curiosity Rover, which generated an object-classifying algorithm.

Officials at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which manages both Curiosity-Perseverance missions, stated that images from Perseverance would further improve [the algorithm].

The officials stated that AI4Mars now offers labels that allow people to select more specific details such as float rocks (islands) or nodules ("BB-sized balls, often formed from water of minerals that have had their cemented together)," they added.

Related: Where can I find the most recent Mars photos taken by NASA's Perseverance Rover?

SPOC (Soil Property and Object Classification) is the tool that was created by Curiosity imagery. This tool was developed from nearly half a million images that were labeled by people, highlighting features such as rock and sand. Officials at JPL stated that SPOC is able to identify such features 98% of time and that rover drivers have already begun using SPOC for planning Red Planet routes.

Perseverance is equipped with 23 cameras and sends hundreds to Earth every day. The time it takes for images to be received by Perseverance and instructions to be uploaded from its teams would be reduced by mission team members. It can take several hours because engineers and geologists look at the photos to find specific features as well as terrain that could be dangerous for the rover.

Vivian Sun, a JPL scientist, stated in the same statement that "it's impossible for any one scientist [to] look at all of the downlinked images with scrutiny within such a short time period, every single day." It would be time-saving if an algorithm could tell us, "I believe I saw rock veins over there," so that the science team can examine those areas in greater detail.

Future research could help to label these geologic features in order to aid the ongoing search for life at Mars. This includes a variety of rover and orbiter spacecrafts, all of which are expected reach the Red Planet within the next decade.

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @Spacedotcom