The Challenge | Make Sense Out of Mars

Develop a sensor to be used by humans on Mars.

Closer Than Mars

Closer Than Mars is a platform that allows users to view and categorize Mars rover data. This is done by retrieving images using the NASA API and then using computer vision to add identifying tags to allow users to group specific images together.


The objective of Closer Than Mars is to create an interactive and scalable platform which will be able to process and share categorized data from rovers and other sensors found on Mars.


Our project utilizes NASA's Mars Photos API to request images and its corresponding metadata available from the various rovers on Mars. The image is then processed using Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services Computer Vision, creating identifying tags for the image. The tags are then combined with the image metadata to create the data to be added to a custom database server. Finally, a web application is then used to aggregate and query indexed data. Upon searching for a specific tag, an image and all of its retrieved metadata is displayed. The user has the ability to view all other images that are also related to it by the searched tag.

The web application home screen, where users can enter specific tags or identifiers to sort through images processed and stored in the database.

After a search the user can view related images based on tag created by Azure computer vision processing. In addition to being able to view other pertinent information provided by the rover API.

Further Development:

  • The image pipeline may be improved to streamline the process of retrieving data from the NASA API at a increased rate
  • As an increased amount of sources of data become available from Mars, classification and tagging can occur based on a wider variety of parameters, allowing for more unique categories to sort by.
  • As computer vision is improved, visual data received from human or robotic operators could more accurately identify unique traits to be used in categorizing and possibly eventually mapping out Mars.

Repositories: (image pipeline) (web application + database server)



SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.