PIXLISE-C: Exploring The Data Analysis Needs of NASA Scientists for Mineral Identification

Picture of Connie Ye
Connie Ye
Picture of Nur Yildirim
Nur Yildirim
Picture of Shravya Bhat
Shravya Bhat
Picture of Scott Davidoff
Scott Davidoff
Published at SpaceCHI 2021
Teaser image


NASA JPL scientists working on the micro x-ray fluorescence (microXRF) spectroscopy data collected from Mars surface perform data analysis to look for signs of past microbial life on Mars. Their data analysis workflow mainly involves identifying mineral compounds through the element abundance in spatially distributed data points. Working with the NASA JPL team, we identified pain points and needs to further develop their existing data visualization and analysis tool. Specifically, the team desired improvements for the process of creating and interpreting mineral composition groups. To address this problem, we developed an interactive tool that enables scientists to (1) cluster the data using either manual lasso-tool selection or through various machine learning clustering algorithms, and (2) compare the clusters and individual data points to make informed decisions about mineral compositions. Our preliminary tool supports a hybrid data analysis workflow where the user can manually refine the machine-generated clusters.