The Moon Zoo project uses images returned by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) which orbits the Moon at a height of about 50km (31 miles).
The LRO mission objectives are:
- To find safe landing sites
- Locate potential resources
- Characterise the radiation environment
- Demonstrate new technology
Analysis of the data returned by users of Moon Zoo will be used to address interesting lunar science studies and will also aid the planning of future exploration of the Moon by manned and robotic landers.
Each heading below discusses one aspect of the Moon Zoo data collection. Further details will be added as the project develops.
See these threads: Moon Zoo: The Science Behind the Project
and Explore the Moon Resource
from which some of this material is taken.Boulder Tracks
One of the main reasons we are asking Moon Zoo users to search for scars left behind by tumbling boulders is to help support future lunar exploration initiatives. Boulders that have rolled down hillsides from crater walls, or massifs like the Apollo 17 landing site, provide samples of geologic units that may be high up a hillside and thus difficult to access otherwise by a rover or a manned crew vehicle. If mission planning can include traverses to boulders that have rolled down hills, and we can track these boulders back up to the part of hillside from where they have originated, it provides a neat sampling strategy to accessing more geological units than would have been possible otherwise... Thus we hope to use Moon Zoo user data to produce a map of known boulder tracks (and terminal boulders) across the Moon. - Katie JoyCrater Counts
One of the uses of crater counting is to calculate the apparent age of the lunar surface by comparing the number of impact craters on different lunar surfaces. Understanding the age of different lunar lava flows and crustal surfaces will shed light on the temporal thermal and magmatic history of the Moon.Fresh White Craters
By counting the number of fresh (new) impact craters the team can calculate the current impact rate of the Earth-Moon system which is of interest in assessing the risk of asteroid an mereoroid impacts. Fresh white craters are important because their ejecta blankets have not been disturbed by micrometeorite impact processes. Because their structure and features are well preserved they are good subjects for studying crater formation and small fresh impact craters of a few kilometres in diameter are the most likely locations from which lunar meteorites (found on Earth) have been ejected.
See Image of the Week - Great Whites
for further information.Dark-Haloed Craters
Dark-haloed craters were caused by an impactor punching through an overlying lighter geological layer into a buried, underlying, low albedo layer of lava which is then scattered on top of the younger bright material. Identifying dark-haloed craters helps pinpoint the extent of buried lava flows on the Moon (known as cryptomaria). Identification of these volcanic deposits will help improve our understanding of the distribution of volcanic activity across the lunar surface, shedding new light on the Moon’s volcanic and thermal history.Boulder Wars
Results from the Boulder Wars study will be used to produce relative boulder-density hazard maps to help identify the most suitable locations for sending future robotic and manned missions to the Moon.