So, Space is the last real place that mankind is engaged in real pioneering exploration right. So does the idea of space inspire you enough to want to get involved in this exploration? Does the idea of being involved in the discovery of something new, unique and completely unknown make your juices flow enough to make you excited enough to want to take part in making some amazing discovery?
That all sounds too expensive, difficult, time consuming, and frankly Mr Yettie, I have no intention of joining the space program I hear you muttering.
No Fear, I’m not asking you to expand on that childhood dream of becoming an astronaut or going out and buying some really expensive kit to explore the skies. No way Hosea! What I am talking about is taking part in a project that was started a few months ago, and promises to make 2013 a pretty special year in the exploration of the Red Planet, our next door neighbour Mars.
This is an image of fan like structures that have been observed on the face of Mars by a satellite in orbit of the Red Planet that has for the last few years been photographing every square foot of the planet over and over again. This has resulted in the production of literally millions of photographic images of the planet in various stages of the season, and it is now known that these fans appear every year in the Martian Spring, what scientists suspect are gaseous eruptions much like geysers here on earth. It is believed that there is a warming of ice below the surface in the spring as the planet warms, and this is what leads to the formation of these structures that can be seen on the planet.
The thing I found amazing about this discovery is that it was made by a Joe Blogs like you or me, who had registered on a website to take part in a project to help map and explore the pictures taken from the surface of the Martian surface. And this, spurred me to go and have a look, and suddenly become really enthused about taking part.
It is simple really. You visit www.planet4.org where you can join over 55,000 other every day explorers who are given a piece of Mars to explore and classify to help scientists catalogue abnormalities on the surface and discover new and interesting formations on the surface. In this way, over 2 million images have now been classified, helping scientists to zone in and focus on findings that are leading to new and exciting ideas, theories and discoveries about our next door neighbour. The amazing thing. You could be a part of all that, and from the comfort of your over stuffed chair.
It is not just Mars that these guys are exploring either. The main program, Zooinverse, located at www.zooniverse.org/projects has all manner of projects on the go, from exploring the moon, to helping to classify cyclones or explore the ocean floor. If you really want to, you can even help to classify cancer samples.
It’s nice to feel that in some small way, maybe something I did to help will be used to make some sort of breakthrough or fascinating discovery, and while maybe that is me being just a little bit delusional it is still a good feeling to be a part of something that is charting the exploration of parts of our universe we know nothing about. It also felt pretty amazing in that while I was working on the pictures I helped to classify, I couldn’t help but think to myself that just maybe I was looking close at a portion of the Red Planet that had never been studies or looked at in such detail before. That is quite a remarkable feeling. I guess it’d be even better to be the first man to stand on the same spot and see it visually, but for now, this small effort on my part is as much as we can do, and yes, I can say that a Yettie was a part of that.
2013 will in many ways be a pretty remarkable year as spacial events go. On the 15th February 2013, the largest object of recent history will pass a mere 35,000 miles from our surface, the asteroid 2012 DA14 a chunk of rock 45 metres wide. Make sure your valentines day is a special one this year. :p
And then, come November December 2013 the mega comet Ison will come within 800,000 km of the surface of our sun, meaning we could have a feature in the sky that could be even brighter than a full moon in daylight hours. If that does indeed happen, surely it will be one of the most dazzlingly spectacular astronomical features of our night sky in our time. No wonder they are coining the term Comet of the Century for Ison’s pass through our system.
Two big events in a great year for star gazing if you are so inclined. Anyway, enough of me babbling on about something I’ve really enjoyed checking out, and I hope that in some ways, just maybe you’ll be able to get as much interest out of it as I did. Hugs to you all and hope January is not treating you too badly.
Thought for today – “Dream as if you will live forever, Live as if you will die today.” – James Dean
Song for today – Fill My Little World by the Feeling