Become a citizen scientist on the Moon

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

LRO spacecraft (NASA)

Artist’s impression of the LRO spacecraft (NASA)

For all you Solar System fans there is a great citizen science project called Moon Zoo 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.

LROC image of the Apollo 12 landing site. Image width is 225 m, NAC Image M175428601R [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

LROC image of the Apollo 12 landing site showing the tracks left by the Apollo 12 astronauts, the lunar lander and scientific equipment left on the Moon’s surface. Image width is 225 m.(NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University).

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 . 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 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!

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!

Moon Zoo citizen science crater tool interface

Moon Zoo citizen science crater location and measuring tool interface

For more information about the LRO cameras see  and for the LRO mission overview see

Moon Zoo citizen science project is at  and learn how to take part at


About Katherine Joy

Hello! I am Katherine Joy. I am part of the University of Manchester Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group. More details about my research interests can be found at
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2 Responses to Become a citizen scientist on the Moon

  1. Pingback: LRO May Have Skidded Across Lunar Ice | David Reneke | Space and Astronomy News

  2. Pingback: Citizen Science II | Now Think about that for a Second…

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