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Take a Virtual Moonwalk for Science

The new distributed computing project MoonZoo (MoonZoo.org) enlists nonscientists to generate data about the moon using newly available high-res images. Cynthia Graber reports

Twelve men have walked on the moon. And now you can, too. Virtually, that is. Because planetary researchers are enlisting everyday citizens in scientific exploration of the surface of the moon.

At the Web site moonzoo.org, you can check out new high-resolution images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Camera. And the team at Citizen Science Alliance, based at Oxford University, says you’ll then be one of the first to see the moon’s surface in what they call unprecedented detail.

This lunar project is a spin-off of the popular Galaxy Zoo, which has gotten more than 250,000 people around the world involved in actual astronomical research. For the moon exploration effort, you might, for example, count craters as you stroll. The researchers say that’s important because it can help them determine the age and depth of the lunar surface. Newer craters could give them clues about recent meteor impacts—and hints about what might be in store for us on Earth. And remember the podcast from April 27th, about a Soviet reflector found on the moon’s surface after forty years? Who knows what strange object you might find. That’s at moozoo.org.

—Cynthia Graber

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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