Mac­cles­field has a new ‘twin town’... on Mars!

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART GREER

AM­A­TEUR as­tronomers have put Mac­cles­field on the map . . . of Mars.

A sec­tion of the red planet has been named af­ter the town af­ter it was cho­sen in a pub­lic vote.

The Mac­cles­field name will be used to iden­tify a sec­tion of Mars as part of a study by the Planet Four pro­ject, which looks at the chang­ing winds on the planet.

The new name was in­spired by Jo­drell Bank, where the Planet Four pro­ject was launched on BBC’s Stargaz­ing Live three years ago.

Dr Grant Miller, from Zooni­verse, which runs Planet Four, said the study will be used in peer­re­viewed sci­en­tific pa­pers, and could see Mac­cles­field be­come a per­ma­nent fix­ture on the planet.

He said: “Nick­names have a habit of stick­ing, so it wouldn’t sur­prise me if you hear sci­en­tists talk about the ‘Mac­cles­field’ re­gion of Mars in years to come.

“Ei­ther way, the of­fi­cial re­ports of the study will use the name ‘ Mac­cles­field’ – so it def­i­nitely has its place in sci­en­tific his­tory.”

Un­til now, Mac­cles­field in south Aus­tralia was our town’s fur­thest cousin at 10,000 miles away, a stone’s throw com­pared to the 34 mil­lion miles to Mars.

And the tim­ing couldn’t be more per­fect as the town pre­pares for the forth­com­ing Barn­aby Fes­ti­val, which this year takes the theme of ‘Space’.

The choice has also been wel­comed by MP David Rut­ley.

He said: “It’s fan­tas­tic to hear Mac­cles­field is firmly routed on the in­ter­plan­e­tary map.”

Sim­i­lar ci­ti­zen sci­ence projects have re­sulted in the dis­cov­ery of dozens of pre­vi­ously un­known gal- ax­ies and a planet.

Dr Miller said vol­un­teer in­volve­ment is es­sen­tial to its suc­cess.

He said: “There are far too many im­ages for a group of sci­en­tists to get through alone and com­put­ers are just no good at de­tect­ing the fea­tures we are try­ing to mark.

“The hu­man mind is far su­pe­rior at analysing im­ages with the com­plex­ity of the Mar­tian sur­face.

“With help from vol­un­teers we can pro­duce an ex­tremely re­li­able fea­tures on the sur­face of Mars and the first large scale mea­sure­ment of wind on the planet.”

The only other ar­eas of the red planet to be given names as part of the study will be known as Man­hat- ten, Inca City and Ith­ica.

The pro­ject in­volves tak­ing one gi­ant im­age from the HiRISE (High Res­o­lu­tion Imag­ing Sci­ence Ex­per­i­ment) cam­era and slic­ing it up into tens of thou­sands of smaller im­ages for anal­y­sis.

Th­ese are posted on the web­site plan­et­four.org where vol­un­teers will look at the im­ages to find fea­tures which are sculpted by the never-end­ing cy­cle of freez­ing and thaw­ing of car­bon diox­ide ice and wa­ter at Mars’ south pole.

Count­down to Barn­aby fes­ti­val’s launch - see page four

●● This HiRISE cam­era will take an im­age of Mars for anal­y­sis

●● Dr Grant Miller is run­ning the study

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