Bad Astronomy

The Moon, up close and personal

This is so very cool: The Lunar and Planetary Institute has set up a website all about the Moon.

From the site:

After a 35-year hiatus, NASA is going back to the Moon. The agency and its partners in academia, industry, and the international community are engaged in an exciting new exploration initiative designed to study the lunar surface robotically beginning in 2008 and with crewed landers before 2020.

To support that activity, the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) has developed a new web-based information portal for the lunar science and exploration community. This new website provides access to everything “lunar” from the earliest Apollo-era documents to the most recent lunar research reports.


Nice! But it’s not just for geeks like me. Well, OK, yeah it is:


The site is designed for a broad range of users, including exploration architects, lunar scientists, students, and the general public.

Information is organized under several specific categories: (1) Lunar Mission Summaries; (2) Apollo-Era Documents; (3) Lunar Samples; (4) Lunar Images; (5) Lunar Surface; (6) Lunar Meteorites; (7) Exploration Strategies; (8) Constellation Hardware; (9) Landing Site Studies; (10) Computational Tools; and (11) Educational Products.

Reading this site is a wonderful taste of the excitement of lunar exploration, one that I hope will get a second chance very soon.

They even have a lunar crater size calculator! Give it the size and other characteristics of the impactor, and it will tell you about the crater it will make and even give you a profile of it. The calculator is a little buggy; I told it to use an iron asteroid 1 km across and it said the crater would be 1.165 meters across. Hmmm. But it does have some cool features, and worked most of the time.

I love this (though I’ve seen it before):

That’s a map of the landing sites of all previous missions. There’s lots more. Very cool stuff. This is the sort of thing I was begging NASA to do a couple of years ago, and… well, I didn’t get very far. I think this website has a lot of potential, and will only get better as go back to the Moon. Keep it bookmarked!