How Science Is Done Today

Well, maybe not. This is not how science is really done today, usually. But it’s a great example of how science could be done.

Rover enthusiast Daniel Crotty naturally pointed HRSCview to the Columbia Hills to see what Spirit’s landing site looked like from space, and he got this view, which looks pretty familiar…
One nifty thing about HRSCview is that when you look at a particular spot, you can easily wander through multiple HRSC images, if they exist, by using a handy dropdown menu at the upper corner of the screen. Daniel noticed that there were a total of three HRSC images covering the Columbia Hills. When he selected one of the alternate views, he was shocked at the change.

In other words, using his home computer and publicly available data, Daniel Crotty used the imaging software provided (HRSCView) to see something that had been missed by the project investigators since October 2005 (and you may want to go to the link to see how obvious it was).

Ok, I’m glossing over a number of things, here. First, is this really “science” (scare-quotes intended)? Science is, after all, a process that consists of three unique steps: observe, predict, hypothesize (rinse and repeat). What Crotty has done is the observation part of the process. However, the unique thing is that the data (openly available) and the tools to deal with it (also openly available) were available to uncounted millions of eyes. This goes a long way to reducing the most serious problem in science, simple human bias.

Explore posts in the same categories: Astronomy, Science

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