Flying across the surface of the Moon

July 16, 2018

This blog has come very late, I have not excuse and I am very sorry!


My internship at LPI has introduced me to a new planetary science program that has helped us immensely with our remote sensing geology mapping and traverse planning in Schrodinger Basin. The program is called MoonTrek (


We were instructed three weeks ago to produce a video that reveals the true environment of the lunar surface. By flying over the surface of the Moon in MoonTrek you can view the numerous craters, the mountainous feldspathic highlands, the low-albedo mare deposits, and the peak-ring structures produced by impact basins such as Schrodinger and Orientale. A true representation of the lunar surface can remind scientists that the terrain on the Moon should not be simply divided into two types of surface features: rough highlands and smooth mare. To showcase the lunar surface and demonstrate the capability of the MoonTrek we are producing a fly-over along the long robotic traverse path proposed by Steenstra et al. (2016).


MoonTrek is a web-based portal program used for surface exploration of Mars and the Moon. It acquires high-resolution images and datasets from a variety of mission instruments such as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), Chandrayaan-1, and Kaguya. The user can alter the map projection, zoom (+/-), and measure distances, slope, elevation and solar irradiance. You can view the Moon as a north or south pole, global, and 3D map; each map projection allows you to access difference images and datasets. For example, in the 3D map projection you cannot add Kaguya spectra-profile data but you can in the north and south pole map projection. In the 3D map you can turn-on the toggle controls and be able to view the surface of the Moon in 3D (shocking how a 3D map allows you to do that now isnt it!) When you zoom in towards the surface you want to add LRO NAC mosaics to see the surface in high-resolution (2m/pixel). Below is an example of what you can view whilst in 3D view. 


The image shows the pyroclastic vent and peak ring in the eastern part of Schrodinger Basin on the farside of the Moon. The image is screenshot from the 3D map projection in MoonTrek.


Another purpose of this project, besides informing or reminding planetary scientists about the surface terrain on the Moon, is to allow the public to visualize the surface from a 3D panoramic perspective. We aim to view everything as if from the eyes of a rover but the speed at which the camera moves is too fast to appreciate the geological features. We plan to be approximately a couple of kilometres above the surface.


Good Deed


This section has nothing to do with my research or internship but I thought it would be nice to share what happened to a few of us one weekend. On Saturday the 24th of June, myself, Valentine Bickel, and Alex Rogaski went for a 16 mile hike at Sam Houston National Forest. The national forest is about a 40 minute drive north from the city of Houston and the trail we walked goes along the west and north banks of Lake Conroe. I am not going to lie, the weather conditions made the hike a lot harder than it should have been. We were expecting temperatures of 89 degrees 50% humidity when instead we were greeted with 95 degrees 70% humidity. Luckily we were well supplied with food, water, and sunscreen. When we reached the end of our hike and packed up everything in the car we encountered something on the road whilst leaving the national forest. We saw our friend Ellen Czaplinski parked on the side of the road trying to befriend a stray dog. When we took a closer look at the stray we noticed she had recently given birth but we could not find any puppies. We assumed at the time that she was used for breeding and was abandoned when the owners did not have any use for her. Instead of passing on along the road, we took the stray dog to the Houston Humane society. We did not feel comfortable leaving her out in the wilderness on her own, she was quite thin. However, the Humane society was closed when we arrived so we fed her and kept her overnight. Oh, before I continue, we named the dog Luna.


The next morning, after the Humane society said they would not take Luna in on weekends we went to a government funded organization called BARC where they told us they could only hold onto her for three days and after that they would euthanize her. We asked if they recommended a shelter we could take her too. They recommended Special Pals, a non-profitable dog and cat shelter in west Houston. Upon arriving at the shelter, everyone instantly fell in love with Luna and said they were more than happy to take her in. I felt a lot happier knowing she would be looked after. We found out she was about three years old and weighed 50 pounds (she was quite thin as well!)! We think in 1-2 months she will be up for adoption. I have no doubt someone will want to take Luna home.


Here is a picture of Luna!

See you all next time!




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