Welcome to Moon Mappers

By on January 9, 2012 in
33% Full Waxing Moon

33% Full Waxing Moon (Credit: S. Robbins)

Welcome to the Moon Mappers project of CosmoQuest! We’re glad to have you here to check out what we’re doing and help gather data for some cool science projects.

The Moon Mappers project is the first of several where we’re asking you to identify features on a planetary surface that will help us learn more about what’s going on.

Once you’ve been through our guided tutorial, the basic task we ask you to do is to identify craters. Craters form when an extraplanetary impactor (like an asteroid or comet) strikes the surface of a larger object and effectively explodes like a bomb, making a hole in the ground. Identifying where these are and their properties help us learn a lot about the impactors themselves and the surface that they strike. I’ll get into specifics of what we’re trying to study in future posts.

While identifying craters is the primary task, we also ask you to point out anything that you see that you think is particularly interesting, weird, or one of any number of a set of specific kinds of other features we’re looking for, such as bright-ejecta craters, linear features, or human-made hardware.

The second interface task that we have is the “Man vs. Machine.” You might think that finding craters with computer software is easy – after all, they’re circular and look alike. But that’s your brain helping you out. To a computer, every crater is a little bit different, and despite 50 years of trying to write the best algorithm to find these, the best ones are only about 80% accurate.

With that in mind, there are billions of craters out there, and no one person, research group, nor even project such as this can find them all. We need to use automated software at some level. But we need to check it. That’s where this comes in, where we ask you to correct the craters found in images in the “Man vs. Machine” interface.

With that short introduction to the project, I welcome you again on behalf of the Moon Mappers team and invite you to get started with helping us map the moon!

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