Wednesday September 19th, we are posting our first student suggested and captioned image on the website. Last spring, students in grades 3 to 14 in schools from around the world, including Hungary, Nepal, Curaçao, India, Arizona, and New Jersey, participated in the first HIRISE Image Targeting Challenge. They suggested target locations that they thought might hold evidence of water at or near the surface of Mars in the recent past. Then the students had to analyze the returned images, submit a report as a class, and write a figure caption. It often takes a long time to get an image after it has been suggested, even for the team members, because of all of the different constraints, including the season, the roll angle limits, and because there are other instruments on MRO that we coordinate with. However, we got very lucky and were able to get twelve of the student suggested images during the spring semester. Tomorrow we are releasing the first of these images that a third grade class in Arizona suggested and analyzed. It is so exciting to me that 8 and 9 year olds are doing science, not just reading it in a textbook. Each week we will release another student image. Hopefully this has gotten some of the students excited about possibly becoming scientists when they grow up. One day some of them may become team members on a space mission.
We are starting the Fall challenge right now. If you know of a school group that might want to participate, check out the HiRISE Challenge website at: http://quest.nasa.gov/challenges/hirise/
Our first live online chat will be on September 25th.