The Surface Features Glossary is Here!

By on March 30, 2012 in

One of the main goals of CosmoQuest is education. Personally, I learn best when I have a “cheat sheet” type of resource where I can frequently look up all the terminology I am learning, to remind myself what each new word means. And I continually refer to my cheat sheet until those new terms are firmly integrated into my knowledge and understanding. Even then, I will often look up terms when I am unsure of my memory. I have lots of these types of cheat sheets around my office, or bookmarked on my web browser. I couldn’t survive without them.

So, with that in mind, we have created a Planetary Surface Features Glossary to help the CosmoQuest community learn about all of the types of surface features they are seeing in the various images.

Typically, each entry looks like this:

You can click on the term (in this case Crater Rays) or the …More links to get to a page with more information on the feature type. Near the bottom of this page you will usually find links to examples of this feature on various planets.

Examples of layered textures on the planets

Right now, only the Moon is completed, but we expect to fill out this option as more projects come on-line (and as time permits).

Sometimes, a feature page will give you several options to choose from (like the Scarps page), and you will have to think about which of the variations on this feature you would like to learn more about before you can see planetary examples.

Scarps Options

Any time you see an image, you can click on it and be brought to a page showing specific details of that image. There, you will find information such as the data set the image is from, the name of the feature being shown (if it has one) and its surroundings, image credits, and the latitude and longitude of the image centre. Often, you will also find a link to a website with more information on the image or a link to the original data so that you can explore the feature in more detail on your own!

All the entries are listed alphabetically on the main Surface Features Glossary page.
Alphabetical Listing

This is great if you know the name of the feature you want to learn more about. But what if you don’t know what you don’t know? Well, we’ve tried to address that too. At the top of the main Surface Features Glossary page, we have presented several good starting points.

Starting Places

These cover all the main types of surface features that you can expect to see on a planet like the Moon and should help you decide where to start your search. Each link in this section will take you to a page where you will have to make another decision, and so on, until you (hopefully) find the feature you were looking for.

At the very bottom of each feature’s page, you can find “bread crumbs” that will take you back up the decision tree to the main Surface Features Glossary page.

Bread Crumbs

So, if you find yourself on a page and are confused about what you are reading, you can always follow the bread crumbs back to see if you can learn more. You may discover that there is more than one route to some pages. The bread crumbs will follow the most connected route from a geological perspective. So, it is may be worthwhile to explore the bread crumbs, especially if you arrive at a page through an alternate route.

We hope you find this glossary a useful and interesting resource. Whatever you think, please let us know your opinions. We can only make it better with your input.

About IreneAnt

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to The Surface Features Glossary is Here!

  1. shelley April 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    Why do you refer to the Moon as a planet in this Statement:These cover all the main types of surface features that you can expect to see on a planet like the Moon and should help you decide where to start your search. Each link in this section will take you to a page where you will have to make another decision, and so on, until you (hopefully) find the feature you were looking for.

    • IreneAnt April 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      Hi Shelly,

      That’s a great question, especially considering the recent controversy about planets and the “demotion” of Pluto.

      The International Astronomical Union defines a planet this way:

      A “planet” is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

      Planetary geologists are much less concerned about the orbital aspects of this definition (like the solar orbit and clearing the neighbourhood parts) and much more interested in the geological processes that result when a celestial body is large enough to arrange itself into a sphere. These processes are pretty much the same regardless of the orbital detils, so planetary geologists tend to call anything spherical a planet. That doesn’t mean we disagree with the IAU definition. It’s just much easier for us to not stress about those distinctions that don’t affect our studies very much.

      I hope that answers your question.