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Offline AshSimmonds

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Remember Fight Club?

When deep space exploration ramps up, it will be the corporations that name everything.

Web surfers can help NASA explore Mars

NASA and Microsoft have launched an interactive website that allows web surfers to become Mars explorers.

The "Be a Martian" website invites members of the public to help scientists perform such research tasks as improving maps of the red planet, the US space agency and US software giant said.

"We're at a point in history where everyone can be an explorer," Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, said.

"With so much data coming back from Mars missions that are accessible by all, exploring Mars has become a shared human endeavour.

"People worldwide can expand the specialised efforts of a few hundred Mars mission team members and make authentic contributions of their own."

Users can, for example, count craters on Mars, a task NASA said had posed a challenge in the past because of the vast numbers involved.

"There's so much data coming back from Mars," director of Mars Public Outreach at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Michelle Viotti, said.

"Having a wider crowd look at the data, classify it and help understand its meaning is very important and we're also accomplishing something important for NASA.

The website hosts hundreds of thousands of pictures of Mars including many which have never been released to the public before.

It features a "virtual town hall" where users can have questions answered by Mars experts and offers prizes to software developers who create tools that provide access to Mars images for online, classroom and Mars mission team use.

The website is located at http://beamartian.jpl.nasa.gov


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