Ever wanted to be a scientist and make an exciting new discovery? Want to be part of a community helping to analyse never before seen images of the cosmos or the Moon or the sea floor? Next time you want an alternative to checking your favourite social media site, or get home and think – I want to do some science this evening (!) – there is a great online resource available for you to contribute to all manner of exciting scientific discoveries. You can become a citizen scientist and contribute to cutting edge research. All you need is a computer, a bit of time and a willingness to learn…
The concept, originally set up by astronomers wanting to study the shape of galaxies, has now been spun out to a wide range of interesting scientific investigations. Just take a look at the Zooniverse website for all the options https://www.zooniverse.org/
For all you Solar System fans there is a great citizen science project called Moon Zoo http://www.moonzoo.org/ that uses photographs taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to study the surface of the Moon. The LRO mission has an incredible camera (actually two of them) on board called LROC NAC (LRO Camera: Narrow Angle Camera) – basically they are telescopes that point down at the Moon and can see features that are only 50 cm in size. The photos that the camera takes are stunning and include photos taken of the Apollo landing sites where you can even see the lunar landers and tracks left by Neil Armstrong and other Apollo astronauts.You can explore some of the LROC images using Moon Zoo and become a scientist by mapping the location and sizes of impact craters which cover the Moon’s surface. The Moon Zoo website explains out it all works and provides instructions for what you need to do http://www.moonzoo.org/how_to_take_part . You can also do fun things like spot interesting geological features (odd craters, volcanos, piles of rocks) and discuss your findings on the Moon Zoo Forum with other lunar citizen scientists http://forum.moonzoo.org/. In fact right now you can see exactly who else is taking part in Moon Zoo around the world by visiting this map of Moon mappers http://www.moonzoo.org/live!
It is hoped that the data collected by the Moon Zoo project will help to address questions about the geological history of the Moon, and better understand impact bombardment in the Solar System. Hope you have fun exploring the Moon with Moon Zoo and helping to unravel it’s fascinating history!