Hello, Moon Zooites!
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’!