Asteroid Mappers FAQ

Got a question? We just might have an answer for you below.

We are working to collect the most frequently asked questions from the forum, blog comments, and your emails all in one place so it is easier for you to find answers and see what others are wondering about.


Why am I identifying craters?


Craters can tell planetary scientists a lot about a surface, such as its age, what kinds of erosion processes may have occurred, and what kind of material may be just under the surface.

To study all these things, we need to know where impact craters are, how many there are, and different things about them. This gives us the basic task of CosmoQuest Asteroid Mappers: Find craters!

What is CosmoQuest Asteroid Mappers currently studying?

Asteroid Mappers is launching with the goal of helping scientists develop a
statistical foundation for understanding the age of planetary surfaces, particularly
Vesta. Vesta is a unique body because of its size and history, so even though the
tasks are the same between Moon Mappers and Asteroid Mappers, the craters and
surfaces on Vesta aren’t as well behaved as the moon, so new challenges already
exist! In addition, Asteroid Mappers will push the boundaries of existing citizen
science to find out just how good the public can get at higher level mapping tasks.
The public is full of talented people with interest in science and both the time and
skills needed to help us learn more about our solar system. And it’s way more fun
when we all work together. Not only that, but in the process, we hope the public can
not only enjoy the return from the mission, but also get a real feel for how science is
done and what it is like to be a scientist.

What we’re hoping is that more eyes on more images will help remove personal
bias from the interpretation of cratering ages, all the while letting the public learn
and enjoy, and helping save time for scientists in the future so they can work on the
aspects of the analysis that really do need a PhD!

I think I’ve found something weird or interesting. What do I do?

Mark Feature Button

Mark Feature Button

If you want to call attention to a feature, use the marking tool in the interface to flag it (see image on the right). This will record it for the CosmoQuest Asteroid Mapper scientists to look at.

How do I know if I’m doing anything right? Why can’t I go back and change things?

We make it so that you can’t go back and change your markings once you’ve submitted an image – you’d be spending all your time fine-tuning past results and not moving on to new ones.

The point of crowd-sourcing like this is to have tens of thousands of people looking at everything to get a consensus result, and your marking that may have been 1 pixel off from the average isn’t going to prevent us from getting good science in the long run. In fact, the analysis of Moon Mappers results from our first year show that to be the case!

We also periodically check how every user is doing. At random intervals, a standardized image will appear for you to do. It won’t be marked in any special way, but CosmoQuest Asteroid Mapper scientists have already identified the craters in it. Once you’ve completed that image and submitted it, we check how you did against the experts.

When we check, we look at how well the crater centers and diameters compare. We then assign a score. We’ll show you both the score and the way the experts identified craters in that image. If the score is low, we’ll ask you to do a second standardized image – we all have bad days. If the second one is low, we’ll ask you to annotate some images where we guide you through.

What are the boulders?

Boulder fields are strewn across the surface, but they are highly non-uniform. Sometimes we find them at the bottom of craters, sometimes on crater walls. Other times strewn around the rims of large craters.

You can tell a boulder from a crater by the orientation of the shadows as they are reversed from those of the craters. See the example image in Tutorials or the Basic Feature Guide.

I don’t see any craters, all I see are hills.

Human perception is an interesting thing and it’s a bit different for everyone. We’ve tried to rotate the images so most people will see craters, not hills. If all you see are hills, a quick way to change it is to invert your screen’s colors if you are on a Mac or Windows computer.

Effects of lighting

Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University (I. Antonenko additional editing)

Mac: Press CTRL+OPT+CMD+8. This will invert the colors on your screen. Press the key combination again to put them back to normal. You can also go to your System Preferences, choose “Accessibility”, then “Display.” Check “Invert colors” to invert; uncheck to return to normal.

Windows XP: Go to “Help and Support.” Type in “High Contrast”. Under “Pick a Task” choose “Turn on High Contrast”. Click where it says “Accessibility Options”. Check “use high contrast and click Settings. Select the contrast scheme that inverts the colors, press “OK,” then “Apply”.

Windows Vista: Press ALT+Shift+PRNTSC (or “Prnt Scrn” or “Print Screen”). This will bring up the High Contrast window. Click “Yes”. This should invert your colors. Follow the same method to return them to normal.

Windows 7: Click on the Start menu. Type “Magnifier” in the search box. Click on the magnifier application and open it. Click on the grey gear to open the Preferences. Click the check box next to the “Turn on color inversion” to invert the colors on your screen. Follow the same steps (but uncheck the box) to return the screen to normal.

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