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Now in 2-D: The LOLA Moon Quiz!

from Michael Khan, 23. October 2010, 09:50

+++ OK, folks, that's it, the quiz is over and submissions will no longer be accepted +++    I am going to try something new in my blog: a quiz. Of course one with a scientific background. It is not going to be all that easy, but on the other hand, there will be a prize for the winner:  either a t-shirt or a baseball cap, emblazoned with the logo of an ESA mission. 

(Lesen Sie diesen Artikel hier auf Deutsch)

I will explain the rules in a minute. First of all, some background: Thanks to the internet, huge sets of science data are now available to the public. This also applies to planetary research, including the science being produced by spacecraft that orbit the Moon. Case in point: the lunar topography data obtained by the NASA spacecraft LRO, observing the Moon from an altitude of 50 km on a polar orbit. One of LRO's instrument is called LOLA - the Lunar Orbiting Laser Altimeter.

Full data sets down to a resolution of 256 pixels per degree can be downloaded from the PDS Geoscience Node here (and of course you will also find vast data sets for other planets). There are standard tools for the visualization, but it's boring to use those if I can write my own, which I had to anyway because I need the data for a variety of purposes in my everyday work.

But that is not the topic here. The LOLA quiz is the topic.

The rules of the game

I have generated topographic maps of five different lunar regions using the LOLA data. These renderings may look a bit different to what you see when observing the Moon through your telescope. The colour codes denote the local altitude with respect to a reference radius. On the right hand side you see a legend that relates colors to latitudes in kilometres. Come on - the well known features are recognizable, once you get used to it. I think it is interesting to be able to see also the actual altitudes, and especially the altitude differences. The Moon is a rugged place.

Please note:

  1. All displayed regions are located on the visible side of the Moon, though they are not necessarily all easy to observe.
  2. I left some meridians and latitudes. The images are not rotated: North is up, South down, West to the left, East to the right. 
  3. I removed the tick marks for longitudes and latitudes. Otherwise it would not have been much of a quiz, would it?
  4. All data are rendered via cylindrical projection. For areas far from the equator, this causes some distortion, but if I hadn't done that, you could have guessed the location from the shape of the meridians
  5. The distances of adjacent meridians and latitudes are not necessarily equal in each picture, nor is the size of the shown region the same for all

Right, that is all you need to know. If you want to participate, please send an e-mail to the following address:

+++ The deadline is reached, the quiz is over, the account has been cancelled +++

Your e-mail must contain either the names of all five displayed lunar regions or the names of the visible craters or other features. Please indicate in the subject line that your mail is related to the LOLA quiz. Your e-mail address will be used only to notify the winner. Under no circumstances whatsoever will it be handed out to anyone else nor will it be used for any other purpose. All received mails will be erased after this quiz is over, teh e-mail addresses will not be stored. 

Those who correctly identified all five lunar regions qualify for the final round: The winner's name will be drawn from the names of all who sent five correct answers. The winner will receive a prize, either a t-shirt or a baseball cap, via snail mail. All others, even if their answers were correct, will not receive a prize but can rejoice in the satisfaction of a job well done!

No legal recourse is possible, and my decision if final. The prize cannot be exchanged against anything else, nor can it be paid in cash. The winner, together with all other contestants who sent in five correct answers, will be listed in this blog, unless they indicate in their mail that they do not want me to list them.

If you have any concerns about data security that I could not dispel, please refrain from participating. It is not possible to participate in any other way than the one I described above. Anyone can participate. Answers are accepted up to Sunday, October 31, 2010, 24:00 (12 p.m.), Central European Time.

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And here are the five images (please click on the pictures for larger versions):

Figure1:

Source: Michael Khan/ESA using NASA data from the LOLA instrument 
on the LRO spacecraft, downloaded from the NASA PDS geosciences node

Figure 2:

Source: Michael Khan/ESA using NASA data from the LOLA instrument 
on the LRO spacecraft, downloaded from the NASA PDS geosciences node

Figure 3:

Source: Michael Khan/ESA using NASA data from the LOLA instrument 
on the LRO spacecraft, downloaded from the NASA PDS geosciences node

Figure 4:

Source: Michael Khan/ESA using NASA data from the LOLA instrument 
on the LRO spacecraft, downloaded from the NASA PDS geosciences node

Figure 5:

Source: Michael Khan/ESA using NASA data from the LOLA instrument 
on the LRO spacecraft, downloaded from the NASA PDS geosciences node

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Go for Launch: Neu! Jetzt in 2D! Das LOLA-Mondquiz!