Bringing Mars Closer to Earth: HiRISE Innovates Accessibility

How do you talk to people about Mars if they don’t know English?

To answer that question, the HiRISE team has created an innovative approach with the HiTranslate Project: a call for volunteers to help translate over 1,000 captioned images into as many languages as possible. The team is rolling out versions of their website in three languages: Spanish, Italian and Greek.

Roberto Gorla, Milan “I think there are enough curious people who would be very interested about the presence of an Italian section in the HiRISE website,” says Roberto Gorla, a volunteer from Milan. “Above all the young people, maybe could fall in love with astronomy and space exploration as I did when, back in a July night of more than forty years ago when I watched two men walking on the Moon for the first time.”

Aristides Skourtopoulos from Limni, Greece, says, “I volunteered to open to my co-patriots, in a language they understand, the world of Mars! Aristides Skourtopoulos, Greece Personally, I feel very proud in participating in such an effort.”

According to the project’s coordinator, Ari Espinoza, the success of the HiTranslate Project belongs to the volunteers, many of whom are not specialists in space sciences, but people who want to learn more about Mars and help others with little-to-no English skills. As a result, volunteers have contributed to over three hundred translations of the captioned images on the HiRISE website.

“Our volunteers are amazing,” says Espinoza. “On their busy schedules, they’ve dedicated time to helping us achieve a milestone for public outreach. We want to take the lead to reach even more people and introduce them to an active space mission in their own language, especially children. People who don’t know English can share in what we discover.”

Nahum Chazarra, Rojales, Spain Nahum Chazarra of Rojales, Spain, says, “The project is essential in bringing knowledge about Mars to many more people than could be possible in only one language.”

“We also want to continue a tradition of excellence here at the University of Arizona,” continues Espinoza. “Three of our volunteers are from the UA. And the HiTranslate Project is an innovative way for language students to apply their skills in the real world with a current space mission. You don’t need to be an expert in space sciences, you just need to love words.”

For more information about how to participate, contact the HiTranslate Project.

About HiRISE
The HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the most powerful one of its kind ever sent to another planet. Its high resolution allows us to see Mars like never before, and helps other missions choose a safe spot to land for future exploration.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and is operated by the University of Arizona.