The Lunar Exploration Working Group, and my Moon Zoo RSS feed

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Here's a quick article on the Lunar Exploration Group which met in China last month and three things we still don't know all that well about the Moon: its origin, the far side, and the water. The discovery of a process of water announced in September for example only pertains to the top 2 millimetres of soil that was measured, and apparently anything below that involves a lot of guesswork. To that list of three I would also add that one of the most important parts about the Moon is that the oldest rocks on Earth are only some 3.7 billion years old (or 3.6? Anyway, 3.something) whereas it is easy to find those on the Moon a billion years older than that. Considering that the most prominent hypothesis for its creation is that it was formed from when a planet-sized object hit us and blew out a huge amount of matter that eventually coalesced into the Moon we know (and thus it was formed from us), having access to rocks that old is crucial in understanding our own planet.

I also wanted to mention though one really interesting thing about Moon Zoo, which is the ability to favourite images you are working on. What is really convenient about this though is the RSS feed it creates for these images, so anyone can take a look at them with a single click. Here is my feed for example, and that link will constantly be updated with new images as I come across particularly interesting ones. Here are most of the ones I've favourited so far:

This list image is one of the most interesting, showing boulder tracks.

There's something really exciting about Moon Zoo, the ability for the average person to make a real contribution to lunar science in the way that we never have been able to until now. Other Zooniverse projects are okay (classifying galaxies, looking for dust returned by Stardust) in an esoteric sense, but this one pertains directly to the closest and easiest location for us to explore, a place a mere three days away.

This video shows how easy it is to take part:

Moon Zoo: Crater Survey from The Zooniverse on Vimeo.

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