Archive | March 2011

Another Photo of Moon Zoo Team People

Pamela Gay, Stuart Robbins, at LPSC 2011

Pamela Gay, Stuart Robbins, at LPSC 2011

The Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in early March had a lot of Moon Zoo-related meetings. But, we had time to pose for some more photos. This one shows one of our Moon Zoo programmers and education people, Pamela Gay (left) and the new Moon Zoo science lead, Stuart Robbins (right) standing in front of a poster of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Wide-Angle Camera’s global mosaic that was released to the public at the end of the conference.


Moon Zoo Science Meeting at LPSC Packed the House!

Moon Zoo Team Meeting at LPSC, 2011 - Pamela Gay's Camera

Moon Zoo Team Meeting at LPSC, 2011 - Pamela Gay's Camera

Two weeks ago, March 7-11, was the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in Texas. An open invite was out for anyone interested in Moon Zoo to attend to give input and get more information about the project. We expected about a dozen but twice that many showed as we crammed ourselves around a table during lunch on Thursday. The photo was taken by one of the waitresses.

The meeting was scheduled for about 75 minutes but some of us were still talking about the project over three hours later. These are people interested in Moon Zoo’s results for science, public outreach, use in the classrooms, and studying how people learn and interact.

We’ll be uploading a new round of images soon for Moon Zoo with some interesting regions of the moon, including the poorly understood but GIGANTIC 2500-km South Pole-Aitken basin. Stay tuned!

Mysterious Craters

Forum member jaroslavp was presented with this Moon Zoo image a few weeks ago:

ID: AMZ1001i8l (Nr Apollonius on the edge of Mare Spumans / Mare Fecunditatis)
Latitude: 3.71611°
Longitude: 56.6751°

Intrigued by the elongated shape of the crater he went on to investigate and what he found posed us all with an interesting crater conundrum. jaroslavp commented that the marked crater looked very different under different solar illumination. In one image it looks like any other round crater. In the other it looks very elongated and is surrounded by bright material.

NAC image: M111219210LE Incidence angle 35.13
NAC image: M119482862RE Incidence angle 57.64

Moon Zoo Team Science member astrostu was impressed and thought this was an excellent example to use to highlight the effect that different angles of solar illumination can produce.

jaroslavp wondered if the round crater was actually new, maybe a recent meteorite impact: He said:

“Maybe the crater wasnt there before? When I look on the dark spot there is no sign of the crater we can see on the second picture. And maybe the sun 45° from the surface makes many things invisible that you can see on the dark picture for example fresh white and dark-haloed craters.”

After some forum discussion it became clear that this really is just the result of viewing the same crater under different illumination but it certainly got us thinking and it is the best example yet we have had on the forum of just what a difference lighting can make as this animation jaroslavp put together shows:

Now on a roll, jaroslavp then found another strange crater containing a chain of 4 smaller craters and noticed something on the right hand slope of the crater wall:

ID: AMZ10018h5 (Taurus Mountains region)
Latitude: 20.8721°
Longitude: 30.8742°

NAC image: M106676354LE
NAC image: M104318871RE

So – is the small chain of secondary craters overlying the featured crater from a different crater impact or from the same impact that created the host crater?

Every day something intriguing is posted on the forum. It’s a great place to discover the Moon!

Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo forum

Absorb yourself in Tycho

Appropriately named after one of the most colourful characters in astronomy, Tycho Brahe, Tycho is one of the most prominent craters on the Moon with its large, bright ray system dominating the southern hemisphere. Tycho is 85 km (53 miles) in diameter and is a relatively young crater at 108 million years old. Because it is young the rays have not been degraded and dulled by meteorite and micrometeorite impacts and still have a high albedo. So extensive are the rays that samples of impact melt glass thrown out by the impact that created Tycho were collected by the Apollo 17 astronauts from the Taurus Littrow region 2,000 km away. Tycho and it’s rays are most spectacular when viewed at full Moon when the Sun is overhead.

image: jules

The Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter Wide Angled Camera gives us a very different view of Tycho. Here we see the well preserved terraced crater walls and central mountains which are just visible in binoculars. So fresh are the features in Tycho that it is the perfect place to study the mechanics of how an impact crater forms.

click for high res version from NASA.

And here’s a close up of the rugged crater floor.


More information and another close up picture in this LROC News System article.

The NAC images of Tycho are well worth a tour. There are many NAC images of the crater floor – search on Lat -43, Long -11. Here are a few to start with:

Enjoy! You may be some time!

Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo forum

New Moon Zoo Science Lead Coming Aboard

Hello, Moon Zooites!

Full Moon - Credit, Stuart Robbins

Full Moon - Credit, Stuart Robbins

Moon Zoo will be a year old in two months, and with time can come a changing of things. Katie Joy, who worked with the original Moon Zoo team to get this project and website off the ground, has a postdoctoral position that has placed large demands on her time and she has been unable to continue to guide Moon Zoo. I have been asked to fill the gap she has left and over the past few months I have been working with the people involved to bring you a revised experience with Moon Zoo in the next few months. More on that when things launch.

I also want to take this opportunity to briefly talk about who I am and what I do so that you know a bit about my background and, just in general, who will soon be at the helm of this project in its science goals.  I have a BS degree in astronomy along with double-minors in physics and geology, awarded in 2005.  Since then, I have been working towards my Ph.D. in astrophysics with a concentration in geophysics (MS in 2008) here in sunny Boulder, Colorado (USA).  My research since 2007 has fairly exclusively focused on Mars and Mars craters in the creation and application of a new giant database of craters and their properties towards questions of Mars geology and the physics of the impact cratering process.  So I have a bit of experience in dealing with giant datasets of craters.  :) I think that the potential power of tens of thousands of volunteers identifying small lunar impact craters is huge and can be applied to many different fundamental questions about the moon and cratering in general, as well as the other tasks that we ask you to do, such as with boulders.

One application that I hope to use Moon Zoo data for is the question of ages:  The basic idea is that craters form randomly over a given surface with time, but that the longer a surface has been around, the more craters it has.  So by counting craters over a given area and doing some fancy statistics, you can come up with ages.  This is actually the ONLY way to age-date places OTHER than the moon (since we have sample returns from the moon), but the moon acts as a baseline for ALL crater-age dates.  And craters on the moon can still be used for age dating small features that we don’t have samples for, like lava tubes — so we can figure out things like when the moon last had volcanic activity.

If you have any questions/problems/suggestions, don’t hesitate to message me on the Moon Zoo forums; I may not be able to help you directly, but I’ll at least try to find someone who can!  I look forward to working with many of you.

Thank you for all your time volunteering, and keep on clickin’!

Melt collapse in Giordano Bruno crater

Melt Collapse

Melt Collapse

The following amazing image was posted in the “Interesting Terrain” thread by Irene Ant on 26 February 2011. She discovered it on the LROC web site.

from: LROC web site

It’s from the impact melt-covered floor of a large crater (Giordano Bruno). Basically, the thinking is that while the impact melt was cooling, some of the still-molten melt drained away (but it’s not clear where to). This left the flash-frozen top (chill crust) of the melt unsupported, so it collapsed into this jagged rubble.
[quote by Irene Ant]

Giordano Bruno is a young crater and there is some discussion about whether a flash seen in the 12th century in the area of the Moon where the crater is located may be evidence of its formation. See the link The Mysterious Case of Crater Giordano Bruno at the end of this post for more information.

Another view of the melt collapse:

from strip: M110919730LE

This is an interesting crater to explore and I did notice that there is a distinct lack of craters within Giordano Bruno crater (or at least the strip I was exploring) which shows that it is of “recent” origin.

There are many areas that look like the surface has melted and flowed leaving behind strange patterns.

both images from strip: M110919730LE

The Mysterious Case of Crater Giordano Bruno