VIPER Rocks!

VIPER Rocks! will be a web-based application enabling citizen scientists to become active science participants in NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) lunar mission. VIPER will be the first rover to explore lunar polar terrain. Analyzing data gathered from VIPER’s navigation and science cameras, citizen scientists will participate in the mapping and classifying of rocks (location, size, and shape) encountered by VIPER during its traverse. These observations will greatly enhance the scientific output of the VIPER mission and provide selenological context to VIPER’s prospecting activity. Resulting rock size-frequency distributions can also inform future surface-based exploration missions, illustrating hazards at smaller scales, unseen in orbital-based datasets.

This project will build and test the foundations of the citizen science application for VIPER Rocks! prior to mission launch. Interactive rock location, size, and shape classification software tools will be developed as an undergraduate senior capstone project by Cal State LA students and integrated into NASA’s established Moon Trek data visualization and analysis portal. Moon Trek is part of SSTP (https://trek.nasa.gov), a suite of online data visualization platforms developed by NASA JPL. Test images will be taken in the SSERVI Lunar Regolith Testbed at NASA Ames Research Center using spare flight VIPER rover and science cameras, ensuring the test images are captured at the same viewing geometry, illumination, and spatial resolutions of the eventual VIPER flight mission images. The Citizen Science rock classification component will be tested on diverse populations of participants leveraging SSTP’s role as an infrastructure project in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate’s SciAct Community, as well as its existing relationships with amateur astronomy clubs in the NASA Night Sky Network, the NASA Community College Network, and numerous K-12 schools. This work will provide a foundation for a future proposal to extend this experience to data gathered during the actual VIPER mission on the Moon.

Student Team
  • Kevin Andrade
  • Diana Arteaga-Andrade
  • Santiago Bautista
  • Michael Gibson
  • Cristian Gomez
  • Nida Sheikh
  • Zainab Sulaiman
  • Diane Tabilas
  • Angy Xajil Ujpan
  • Tammy Xaypraseuth
Project Sponsor
JPL
Project Liaisons
  • Shan Malhotra
Faculty Advisors
  • David Krum