I see something you don’t: volunteers can help ESA


SEARCH THE DIFFERENCE: If you enjoy this classic game premise, now you can put your eyes on the science. ESA is asking for volunteers to help analyze images of a comet whose surface changes as it travels around the sun.

ESA needs volunteers to study a comet

It was one of the most ambitious missions in the history of space exploration: in 2004, ESA sent the Rosetta probe on a ten-year journey. The task: to examine a comet up close for the first time. The chosen target: comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 67P for short. A chunk about 4.3 km by 4.1 km that orbits the Sun every 6.5 years. From 2014 to 2016, Rosetta became a companion on this journey, delivering unique impressions of an ever-changing surface. This is exactly where a new project comes in.
What is the difference? Volunteers should help ESA
Rosetta continuously acquired high-resolution images (1 m per pixel) during the mission. As the comet approached and then moved away from the Sun in its orbit, scientists were able to observe a fascinating change on the surface. “Given the large number of high-resolution images, it is virtually impossible for comet experts to visually inspect and catalog all the changes,” says ESA.

This is exactly where volunteers should help. On the Rosetta Zoo page, the space agency is allowing anyone to see paired images of the same region of the comet — one taken before and one after the approach to the Sun. The simple task: recognize, mark and describe the changes between the two images.

In this way, ESA’s goal is to create a map of the changes and active zones on the surface of the comet – which in turn allows conclusions to be drawn about the mechanisms that play an important role in the formation of the comet. solar system.

Mission makes automation difficult

Why is automated image recognition not used for analysis? As the scientists describe it, Rosetta failed to enter a “systematic mapping orbit” around the comet. This means that region recordings are usually only available under different perspectives and lighting conditions. “The human eye is currently even better at detecting image changes and is less sensitive to differences in resolution and lighting between images,” the team said.

space travel, surface

Space, Surface, Esa, Comet, Rosetta
ESA

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