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The Moon in your hands

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Interviews
Sci/Tech

NASA has a developed a virtual Moon, much like Google Earth, that lets users zoom around three-dimensional visualizations of the terrain. Declan Butler talks to Patrick Hogan, manager of NASA's World Wind project, about the software.

World Wind Moon, released in October 2005, was made off the back of World Wind Earth. Was it hard to make the leap off this planet?

It was a piece of cake really. We got our hands on imagery and elevation data from NASA's [1994] Clementine mission. It was mostly a matter of processing all that, and georectifying the images with coordinate data to place them correctly. Then once you add in the elevation and terrain data, the user is able to navigate in three dimensions through the Moon terrain, just as in the Earth version. Most of the imagery is at 100-metre resolution, but about 10% is at 20-metre resolution. There are also shaded elevation data, provided by the US Geological Survey, which has different colours for elevation, so that the mares [lunar 'seas' of old lava floods] stand out against higher structures.

What's the most striking thing about the virtual Moon software?

Full Story.

This is great especially for

This is great especially for school use. Now students can see what the moon really looks like. From what I understand about the features, it can even show the different lunar phases, which is being taught in science subjects. It will show NASA landmarks and apollo landings, which are taught both in Science and History subjects. It's just like making a movie version of the book. This time it's textbooks. Students will pay more attention to what they're learning if they can visualize them. But maybe, this will be a great disappointment for the little ones; to discover that the moon is not really made of cheese. Smile

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