Walk on the Moon - 40th Anniversary of the Last Moon Walk
It seems almost incredible to me that it has been nearly forty years since the LAST man set foot on the moon (Apollo 17's Lunar Module settled onto the surface at 19:54:42 UT on 11 December 11, 1972 and departed 75 hours later on December 14, marking the end (perhaps temporary) of humanity's physical exploration of non manmade objects outside our atmosphere. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1972-096A)
No woman was ever sent; perhaps because the moon has been viewed as a goddess by so many cultures - more likely it was just chauvinism, or that nagging problem with space suit design for long-term use and plumbing differences.
But to "celebrate," if that is the correct word to describe a great leap backwards, Eugene Cernan's departure, galaxyzoo.org, the group who brought real astronomy to the masses by having individuals on the Web classify images of galaxies, now offer moonzoo.org where the NASA Luna Recon Orbiter images give you a chance to see the moon as no earth-based telescope user could hope to match.
The Zooniverse project also gives astronomers a hand by letting visitors identify supernova events.
Visit www.moonzoo.org/live to not only see images of the moon but also live note showing where in the world other visitors are locate and what part of the moon they are viewing.
Register (no charge) and you have access to special features and can participate in real astronomical research.
At the largest magnification the view covers 5 miles/10 km.
The smallest object which can be resolved by the LRO cameras is 50 centimeters across (about the width of a license plate).
Moon Zoo's project, which you can choose to participate in or ignore, is to produce a detailed count of craters.
The Moon Zoo images come from NASA's LRO which has three cameras.
All of the Apollo missions from 11 through 17 (except for 13 which, of course, had to abort) actually landed in what is visually a very dull area of the moon - precisely because it has few prominent features (landing on the side of a crater wall would not be a good idea.)
When you zoom out to just a 500 mile view it is obvious just how little of the moon we have actually explored.
The overhead view of the Apollo landing sites is actually pretty boring, I suggest you move a bit north or south to see some fantastic views. (http://www.moonzoo.org/my_moon_zoo?ticket=ST-1274811472r65A4E30090B958CD38 is a good starting place.)
Be sure to check the "elevation" view which shows "false" colors to indicate elevation.
You will probably be surprised to see that there are mesas, not just craters.
Although SETI at Home is a more exciting project in concept (helping look for signals from ET), the MoonZoo and GalaxyZoo projects are more satisfying to many because you actually do real scientific research yourself instead of just loaning your spare computing time.
John McCormick is a reporter, /science/medical columnist and finance and social commentator, with 17,000+ bylined stories. Contact John through NewsBlaze.
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