Archive for the usa Category

GLXP landing sites

Posted in glxp, map, moon, usa on January 24, 2011 by moonmapper

Dr Philip J. Stooke of The University of Western Ontario has compiled a map of planned landing sites of Google Lunar X Prize contestants.

Get it here.


A map, retro style

Posted in history, map, moon, processing, usa on November 2, 2010 by moonmapper

This is National Geographic map on the Moon, first published in February 1969 issue:

(reduced under fair use. You can see a zoomable version and buy a copy at the NatGeo store).

I have found a fascinating story dealing with the creation of this map, told by the cartographer who was actually working on it: Part 1 and Part 2. The work started back in 1964, before the detailed imagery of the Farside was even available (but after the first images of the Farside returned by Luna 3). As the Lunar Orbiter images were coming in, a special process had to be developed and employed in order to rectify the photographs and put them on a coordinate grid. It worked, although there was one major problem on the Farside:

The gut- killer was that there was nothing I could use to check my work. I had to work across the entire Far Side hoping everything would meet up correctly. Fortunately it did.

I humbly bow before people who were able to accomplish such things.

Contrast this with today, when I can get a gridded and calibrated altimetry dataset from the spacecraft over the Internet in a few minutes; spend one weekend writing processing software and produce a map of interesting area within several minutes — all that without even leaving my home. Or having a formal training in cartography, for that matter. Or, if I’m lazy, fire up VMA or LTVT and be done even quicker. I can even shade the map with titanium concentration in a few clicks, if I feel like it. To quote Phil Plait

We live in the future. Still no flying cars, but we live in the future.

Constellation landing sites

Posted in cxp, lro, moon, usa on October 31, 2010 by moonmapper

The ill-fated Constellation program was supposed to land humans on the Moon by 2020. As a part of this effort, a process of landing site selection has been started, and the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter was launched in order to image these sites. Although the program never lived to selecting actual landing sites, a list of 50 targets for LRO imaging, known as Constellation Regions of Interest, has been compiled and given over to the LRO team for detailed imaging.

(CxP regions of interest, click to enlarge. Source.)

It turns out (much to my surprise) that despite the Constellation’s demise, the LRO team has actually acquired the high resolution imagery of the Constellation sites. Even better, they were given coverage at the LROC blog.

Without further ado, the stuff:

The LCROSS brew

Posted in lcross, moon, usa on October 30, 2010 by moonmapper

The LCROSS probe has been featured on this blog before, but now the new goodies have been released, in form of five papers in the Science journal of Oct. 22.

We now know the content of volatiles (and other elements) in the soil at the LCROSS impact site. My visualizations below.

(click the image to get a fullsize view, or  here for an interactive visualization)

(click the image to get a fullsize view, or  here for an interactive visualization)

(click the image to get a fullsize view, or  here for an interactive visualization)

Key to symbols:

  • LTV – Low Temperature Volatiles (<600K)
  • HTV – High Temperature Volatiles
  • CON – early condensate
  • MET – metal
  • SIL – Silicate

Compiled from:

  • Colaprete, “Detection of water in the LCROSS ejecta plume”, Science 330 (2010)
  • Gladstone, “LRO-LAMP Observations of the LCROSS impact plume”, Science 330 (2010)


  1. Gladstone et. al. give H2 content of 1.4% as measured by LRO. This omitted from the dataset, as this hydrogen is most likely already included in the organic compounds detected by LCROSS (as noted by Colaprete
  2. Colaprete et. al. give the H2O content as 5.6+/-2.9% and give the content of other organics as percentage of water mass. To get absolute ppm, I have used the 5.6% figure.
  3. For some molecules, the given value is the upper limit.
  4. Note the difference between Co (cobalt) and CO (carbon monoxide).
  5. The published numbers add up to 34.73% of soil content. The remainder is unaccounted for and has been omitted from the visualizations for clarity.

LCROSS impact site

Posted in kaguya, lcross, map, moon, usa on October 3, 2010 by moonmapper

On October 9th, 2009 the LCROSS spacecraft has been intentionally crashed inside the Cabeus crater in an attempt to verify presence of water ice. The mission proved successful and water molecules have been observed in the impact ejecta.

The mission actually involved two impacts. The first one, by a spent Centaur upper stage used to boost LCROSS to the Moon; the second one by the LCROSS shepherding spacecraft (SSC) itself, four minutes later. The SSC followed the Centaur on its way to annihilation, flying through the plume raised by the rocket’s impact and analyzing its composition. The concept has been neatly explained in this video:

This is the topography of the impact site (my render from Kaguya LALT data, click to get the high resolution PDF).

For comparison, below is a map of the impact site made available by NASA (from this PowerPoint presentation).

A NASA map of the impact site, from the LRO LOLA altimeter