NASA and Microsoft launch citizen science website.

From the NASA press release:
nasa-be-a-martianNow anyone with a Web browser can become a Martian explorer. That’s because NASA is launching a new citizen-science Web site, called “Be a Martian,” that gives people a chance to view hundreds of thousands of images gathered over decades of exploration on the Red Planet.
The site is also designed as a game with a twofold purpose: NASA and Microsoft hope it will spur interest in science and technology among students in the U.S. and around the world. It also is a “crowdsourcing” tool designed to tap visitors’ brains and help the space agency process volumes of Mars images.
“We really need the next generation of explorers,” says Michelle Viotti, director of Mars Public Outreach at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “And we’re also accomplishing something important for NASA. There’s so much data coming back from Mars. Having a wider crowd look at the data, classify it and help understand its meaning is very important.”

“So NASA and Microsoft are combining crowd-sourcing, cloud-computing, and citizen-science, all toward aligning with a web philosophy that Tim O’Reilly calls ‘small pieces loosely joined,’ ” says Microsoft’s CTO of Advanced Government Technologies, Lewis Shepherd. In his occasional series of emailed newsletters, Shepherd gives readers glimpses into the future by unveiling or hinting at some fascinating developments at Microsoft. He also happens to be a super nice guy and a moral supporter of SciCheer’s efforts. Follow him on Twitter @lewisshepherd . When he posts, the world listens 🙂

Last night, he announced Code Dallas, a tool Microsoft just deployed in what some are calling the War for the Web. For the tech geeks out there, here’s Shepherd’s description:

Microsoft’s Information Services business, which developers and information workers can use to find and manage Web services and datasets  – free or paid – to power their apps, on any platform. Dallas is built completely on the Windows Azure cloud platform, which includes a SQL Azure cloud database, so you get the ability to store structured and unstructured data whether from Dallas’s “data-as-a-service” or your own collections, to invoke and examine the data without having to parse it, to use REST services to manipulate and move the data, and to analyze the data using the new PowerPivot high-end analytics for Excel 2010 spreadsheets, for example.

If you want to see the future of Microsoft, and the future of the web and computing as we see it, as Shepherd puts it, Ray Ozzie laid out in his keynote address, streamed live today at 11:30 eastern time, 8:30 am Pacific, over at http://microsoftpdc.com/.  Replay it at your convenience.