You have 10 minutes where you’re not doing anything else, you boot up your computer, open the internet browser, and of course your first place to go is CosmoQuest’s Moon Mappers. You start to identify craters and in all your markings, you start to wonder, where am I? What am I looking at? Where on the moon is this?
We’ve selected two regions to start with in studying the moon.
Apollo 15 Landing Site
The first stop is the Apollo 15 landing site (well, perhaps not first stop because the images are served up at random). We have selected about 15 images around the Apollo 15 site to study for a few reasons:
- There’s a chance that one of the images you look at will have Apollo 15 artifacts in it! (If it does, make sure you flag it with the Mark Feature tool! — and check the image below to figure out what you may have found).
- Since the landing sites have been imaged so much, we have them at lots of different sun angles and we want to figure out what the best angle is for identifying features like craters and bright and dark surfaces (these probably won’t be the same answer).
- Small crater counts will help us get a better handle on age-dating the moon with craters since we have rocks from all the Apollo sites and know how old they are.
We’ll have a page up soon on the main site explaining all the images in the Apollo 15 landing site area, and when we do, I’ll come back and update this posting.
South Pole-Aitken Basin and CryptomareNope, this isn’t some hunt for bigfoot – that would be cryptozoology. Cryptomare are buried volcanic planes. When craters form, they toss out a lot of material from under the surface, and the other science co-lead, Irene, is interested in studying these kinda of features. So if you see any black stuff, especially around craters, please make a marking!
The cryptomare deposits she’s interested in particular are in the South Pole-Aitken basin. It sounds a bit like a bad song, but this is the name for probably one of the largest impact basins in the solar system, and definitely the largest one on the moon. The basin is named because it spans from the south pole to Aitken crater, and it’s a huge, around 2500 km across and 13 km deep. Because it’s so deep, material inside of it may be from the lunar mantle instead of the crust, and future exploration there is a high priority for many world space agencies.
We’re starting with just a few images here for the moment, but we’ll be expanding our selection in the future.