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Mt. Malapert from LOLA data, in false color and false sun, NASA

We choose to go...not because it is easy, but because it is hard ...

-- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

You Can Explore the Moon with the latest NASA data in 3D

Now in 3D; and we need your help as a Beta tester Now!

  1. Exploring the Moon

  2. We are just beginning to know Earth's Moon as a place, to know our Moon as we know our home planet. Before Apollo, we had a Moon all wrong, imagining it with the look of rugged mountains, like the Rockies, all jagged peaks and sharp cliffs.

    Through Apollo, we learned better. This new Moon, the Apollo Moon, our Moon, is all smooth mounds and the flat areas that slope this way and that, craters and huge rocks but hardly a sharp crag or cliff to be found anywhere. But we have not yet really taken our new Moon into our hearts.

    Powerful new data has just become available, a flood of numbers for altitude, slope, roughness, and appearance. We can now check for ourselves what places on the Moon are really like. From the physical information we now have, we can understand what use we can make of the most promising sites and determine the capabilities our vehicles must have to move between them. We cannot go, but we can know. We cannot walk the Moon with our feet, but we can walk the Moon with our computers and our minds.

    The next human beings who will visit the Moon are probably in high school at this moment. If you are one of them, this website is designed to help you take a new look at all the interesting places on the Moon; a new look in great detail, right now. Before you take on a hard and difficult journey, you must envision yourself there. I invite all the students of the world to see themselves on the Moon, on the Moon of Apollo. It is now clear that my generation is not returning so we must past the baton to you.

    The Apollo 15 Lunar Rover and astronaut Irwin, NASA.

    The Apollo 15 Lunar Rover and astronaut Irwin, NASA

    Recently two years of data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission has become available to the public. This data is ideal for lunar site studies and is worth about 1/2 billion dollars. Of particular interest to those who would return is the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) data. This instrument is specifically designed to measure the altitude and slope of the ground over the complete surface of the Moon. You can now use this data to evaluate any lunar site you please.

    This new power to study the Moon can be handy whether you are checking out the setting of your next science fiction story or computer game, reviewing key historic and scientific locations, planning location for robot missions, laying out trails for men or robots, or scouting a destination for a mission you are determined to lead. It all starts here and now.

    A good lunar site with potential is Mount Malapert near the Moon's south pole. In what follows, we work with this area in great detail. Mt. Malapert is a prime location for a lunar settlement with Earth views 100% of the time, sunlight 90% plus of the time, and good access to lunar resources. If you are not familiar with this location, a fly-by of the lunar South Pole region showing Mount Malapert can be viewed at The Moon's South Pole in 3D via LRO/LOLA First Light Data

  3. Open Design Effort

  4. This Web site is an open design study of the ground slopes in the Mount Malapert area as read by LOLA. It provides a very detailed procedure that you can use to explore any other area of the Moon just as well.

    Anyone interested may review the example, test what we have done, and then extend this study. This is a particularly good effort for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) students and could be used for a number of school assignments. If you are interested in extending this study, please contact the author by e-mail or by making a comment on our supporting blog.

    I am particularly interested in how you are progressing and any problems you may have. We very much now need Beta Testers.

    We also need to build arguments for manned space exploration that appeal to a wider segment of society. You can join us in this effort at: Two Arguments for Manned Space Exploration in the Progressive Frame.

    The Lunar Rover kicking up dust, NASA.

    The Lunar Rover kicking up dust, NASA


  5. Slope Limits Use

  6. There a number of reasons that slope, or angle of incline, is important in study of any site on the Moon. The surface of the Moon is covered with fine ground rock, called lunar regolith. Regolith is powdery fine for the top 6 cm but then contains progressively more gravel and then rock as you dig deeper. The top regolith powder makes for very poor traction for wheeled vehicles so they cannot safely travel on very steep slopes.

    Buildings require flat floors for comfortable living so a building intended for a sloping location would require much more excavation than one built on the flat. Excavation on the Moon will be very expensive and slow. A detailed discussion of one type of lunar settlement construction can be found at Lunar Architecture as Mole Hills.

    Landing a rocket on a sloped location is risky. Subsequent launch of a rocket from a sloped location requires extra fuel to straighten out the flight. One Apollo flight landed on a 10% grade and just barely had the fuel to reach orbit again.

    Grade or Angle of Incline meters/100meters Color Description Uses
    0°<S<5° 0 to 8.7 Light green Ideal for all purposes building, transportation landing, and launches.
    5°<S<10° 8.7 to 17 Gold Good Transportation with wheeled vehicles and rocket launches
    10°<S<15° 17 to 26 Red Limited use only Any use requires preparation and planning
    15°<S<20° 26 to 34 Blue Dangerous Wheel traction questionable
    20°<S 34 to 57 Purple Very Dangerous Area subject to landslides

    Table 1, The slope of a location measured in percent grade as it effects use

    These limits are based on the Apollo to the Moon experience. Improvements in the design of lunar buildings and equipment are likely to increase the slope acceptable for building, transportation, and launch in the future.

    Footprint of LOLA data, NASA

    Footprint of LOLA data, NASA

  7. The LOLA Footprint

  8. The LOLA instrument reads the range from the spacecraft to the target by firing five laser beams down from low orbit at five locations on the ground that form the center and corners of a square. These points are called D1 to D5 in the data.

    On a mountain top, like Mt. Malapert, the diagonals of this square measure about 40 meters. The squares are typically separated by a similar distance.

    This study follows the professional data reduction process with a few simplifications to allow calculation with commonly available computer equipment and software, like spreadsheets. Professional-level software is scheduled to be available to some students in late 2011.


    LOLA footprint points projected onto a plane in longitude and altitude, and a plane in latitude and altitude

    LOLA footprint points projected onto a plane in longitude and altitude, and a plane in latitude and altitude

    The slope is calculated from a line of data by separately least-square fitting one line to a plot of longitude versus altitude and then a second line to latitude versus altitude for each set of five readings. Advanced spreadsheets, like our example, have a special function to calculate the slope of a least-squares fit of a line to points. The final slope is taken as the square root of the sum of the squares of the slopes of these two lines.

    Although tedious, this entire process can be followed by an interested high school student equipped with commonly available hardware, software, and an Internet connection. It is a challenge, but students with experience using computers should be able to complete it.

  9. Software Required

  10. To make first use of the LOLA data a positive experiences for the student, this analysis was limited to only basic software and computer equipment. This study used:

    1. OpenOffice 3.2 Spreadsheet, or Excel
    2. IrfanView, or Microsoft Paint, a graphics editing program
    3. Google SketchUp 8, a 3D design program

    A version of each of these software packages is available free on the Web and can be run on computer equipment now commonly available to high school students. You may not be familiar with each of the packages but learning them will be a valuable improvement in your computer skills.

    As this is a learning exercise, best practices were used for each of the software packages. For example, keeping notes as an electronic file in the same folder as the data.

    The only difficulty was in handling the large files. Excel did a better job of this than OpenOffice which is limited to 64,000 rows. It is best to back up often, which takes about 2 minutes, and to do nothing while the backup is going on. Be ready to fall back to backup copies several times before the work is complete.

    Once you have worked through this example you will be ready to set out exploring the Moon on your own with confidence.


  11. Location Chosen for this Example

  12. Mount Malapert is a high ridge near the lunar South pole. It was chosen for this example because it is an outstanding location for a lunar settlement.

    The Mt. Malapert Peak study covers an area of 26.6 by 12.1 kilometers centered along the top of the ridge. The diagonal distance across each individual LOLA data square in one row, represented by a colored square in the graphics, is about 40 meters. This area has over 17,000 good data points. This is about as large an area as can be conveniently handled with a spreadsheet.

    By international agreement, all work on the Moon is done under the International System of Units (SI or the Metric System)units. All distances are given in either kilometers or meters. Slopes are given as angles of incidence in degrees.

  13. Outline of the Process and Example Files

  14. The detailed steps for the example below can be summarized as:

      Part 1: Get data

    1. Controlling the Files
    2. Part 2: Data Reduction

    3. Reducing file size
    4. Test for Good data
    5. Copy-and-paste the large Data Block
    6. Calculations
    7. Preparing for the Slope Chart
    8. Drawing the Slope Chart
    9. Preparing for the Altitude Chart
    10. Drawing the Altitude Chart
    11. Make Notes on Paper
    12. Part 3: 3D graphics

    13. Starting the 3D Model
    14. Making the Terrace
    15. Making the TIN(Triangulate Irregular Network)Terrain
    16. Laying down the Slope with Match New Photo
    17. Finishing Up

    The working files are so large I was able to place only a limited example of the finished spreadsheet on the Web. This short example has all the columns, formulas, and graphic generator correct but I have removed all but a few hundred data rows. You can download this short spreadsheet and the supporting notes below:


  15. Part 1: Obtaining Data

  16. The LOLA data is available to the public through:

    Lunar Orbital Data Explorer input window

    Lunar Orbital Data Explorer input window with example data

    To use the Lunar Orbital Data Explorer, run the following steps:


    1. Skip down past or to the Directly specify a Latitude and Longitude cover area and enter the following numbers --
    2. Max Latitude -85.6
      Min Latitude - 86.2
      Western Longitude 354
      Eastern Longitude 6

      Table 2, Entry parameters for Lunar Orbital Data Explorer


      Hint: Imagine a map of the United States laid over your map of the Moon. It is fairly easy to be sure that your mental map has Texas to the Moon's south. The eastern most lunar longitude is by the Carolinas; the western most longitude is by California; the max latitude is by Canada; and the min latitude is by Texas. This is true anywhere on the Moon.

    3. Check map -- Click on Show Area On Map. The Malapert area is barely visible at the bottom center of the map.
    4. Hint: Actual buttons and words appearing on Web sites are given in italics.

    5. Use standard parameters -- You do not need to change any of the suggested filtering parameters.
    6. Get count -- Click on Query Count. This searches the files to count the number of data points that are available for this location. The answer should be around 160,000. Counts above 300,000 become difficult to work.
    7. Generate CSV files -- Click on CSV Format > Generate Files. Comma Separated Variable (CSV) files are the easiest to read with a spreadsheet like Excel.
    8. Download data files -- You can download the third down RDR_352E6E_86p2S85SFramePerRow_csv_table.csv single file or a zipped file with a similar name containing this file among others.
    9. Hint: Wait for it. Some of these steps may take up to 5 minutes to generate, and the download took 10 minutes on my system. The .csv file is large at about 40 megabytes.

    10. Generate Binned Image -- Click on Binned Image. This snapshot is not necessary but shows the coverage of all the passes. It can be helpful as it shows how much data is available.

    Controlling the Files

    1. Make Folders -- Make data folders for this work for example:
    2. Moon/Malapert

    3. Organize Download data -- Transfer or unzip the Lunar Orbital Data Explorer data file, RDR_352E6E_86p2S85SFramePerRow_csv_table.csv, into this folder.
    4. Start Notes file -- Open a word processing file and start taking notes on your efforts. You can download the notes from this example, RDR_LOLA_Notes.docx, or start you file fresh. Enter the numbers you used to generate this data before you forget them.
    5. Save the Notes file -- Use a new name and put it in the same folder as the data.
    6. Beta Testers: Time to take a break and e-mail me how you are doing and any difficulties you are having.

    7. Part 2: Data Reduction

    8. Hint: This data reduction takes several hours to complete and will probably take you several tries the first time. The following step-by-step, graphics, and short spreadsheet will give you a good idea of the process. Try to duplicate the process as shown first and then add your ideas for improvements and move to other locations.

    9. Open File -- Open the CSV file with your spreadsheet software.
    10. Save File in new format -- Save As the file under a modified name in the file format that is most easily read by your spreadsheet software. For Excel it will be .xlsx; for OpenOffice Spreadsheet it is .ODF . Keep the first numeric part of the name, change the middle to something you can remember, and end with 01 and the extension. This will be your "01 File". For example: RDR_352E6E_86p2S85SMalapertPeak01.xlsx
    11. Download the short spread sheet -- Download the short example spreadsheet.
    12. Hint: Note that this file and most of the images from it appearing below were done with Excel. They may look a little different with other brands. The color red indicates entries that, in addition to the main data block, are made for most tests. The color purple indicates blocks that must be adjusted for major changes in location.

    13. Save this Data 02 File under a new name -- Save the short example spreadsheet file with your preferred extension under your file name except end it with "02" at the end. We will build on this copy of the file later and the new name will make it specific to this study. For example: RDR_352E6E_86p2S85SMalapertPeak02.xlsx
    14. Skill Development: This procedure makes heavy use of spreadsheets. They have been a mainstay of personal computing almost from the start and are still going strong after 40 years. The effort you put into getting better at using them for this exercise will stand you in good stead for your entire life.

      Reducing file size

      Hint: We must now work to reduce the size of the 01 File. The file is very big and a stretch for most spreadsheet programs with up to 64,000 lines of more than 67 columns. Do not be surprised if your spreadsheet hits limits or you lock up the spreadsheet from time to time; we are pushing what our equipment will do. The larger and more data points in a test area the more likely this is to happen.

    15. Increase column widths -- Select all the column headings and right click > Column width. Set this to 10 in Excel but may be a different number in other spreadsheets. This will make the headings more readable.
    16. Bold Row 1 -- Use Row 1 > right click > Bold to make the headings even more readable.
    17. Remove unneeded columns -- Fortunately we only need 20 of the columns. Carefully familiarize yourself with the following columns so that you can protect them:
    18. Remove Columns -- Even more carefully remove the following 47 columns from the 01 File with right click > delete :

    19. Check the column headings -- The heading Offnadir should be the last column and in Column T. The short example spreadsheet, now your Data 02 File, has the correct columns removed.
    20. Save the Short File -- Also save this smaller version of the file.
    21. Test for Good data

      Good Data test columns

      Good Data test columns

    22. Good data test -- The test for Good Data has a long IF statement that marks the lines that have missing mission data denoted with entries like 999, 99, or -99. Also Offnadir reading above 2.0 are marked bad. This must be done in your 01 File with the following steps:
      1. Working in the Data 02 File, click on Good Data box, V5.
      2. Copy the formula in the Formula Line to your clipboard with right click > copy
      3. Hit the Esc key to break your association with the Data 02 File
      4. Click on any box in your 01 File to activate that window
      5. Click the box you need in your 01 File, V5 (not V2)
      6. Paste the formula into the formula line with right click > paste.
      7. Place the curser in the formula box and check that all the squares that have colored boxes are in Row 5.
      8. Hit Return
      9. Look for the word "BAD" in V5.
    23. Extend this formula -- In the 01 File, copy the test formula in V5 down Column V to all the rows having data from V2 to the end of the data. All the data entries in Column V should now read "BAD" or "good".
    24. Sort by Data Test -- We now need to remove all the bad lines of data in the 01 File. To do this carefully select all the data rows from Column A to Column V. Open the sort function and select custom sort on Column V, alphabetically from Z to A or ascending. Since "Good" comes in an alphabetical listing after "Bad", this sort will move all the BAD rows to the bottom of the file.
    25. Hint: If there is a mix of Good and Bad after the sort then you probably have the wrong row numbers in the sort formula.

    26. Note the Number of Rows -- Open your notes file and note the number of rows before and then after removing the bad data.
    27. Remove all bad data -- In the 01 File, go down the rows until you find the change in Column V from Good to Bad. In the example, the break was at Row 18070. Block out all the rows from there to the end of the data. Delete them all with right click in selected area > delete > entire rows. This got the example file down from 54475 to 18069 rows -- a much more manageable number --.
    28. Save the Short 01 File and the Note File
    29. Copy-and-paste the large Data Block:

    30. Block out good data -- In the 01 File, carefully block out the good data rows from Column A to Column T in your new data file. Hit right click in selected area > copy. This process can take two minutes.
    31. Paste the data block from the clip board to your file -- Click on the very first data square of the Data 02 File, A5 and right click > paste. This will greatly extend this Data 02 File.

      Hint: It is even possible to paste in good data points from two adjacent areas as long as the total number of good data rows does not exceed the 64,000 row limit of some spreadsheets and the maximum number of data points in any chart series does not exceed 32,000, the limit for graphing.

    32. Check test column -- Look at Column V to be sure that it is now full of Good.
    33. Save all open files
    34. Close the 01 File -- We have finished with it. All future work will be done in the Data 02 File.
    35. Heading rows

      Heading rows

    36. Title Row -- In the Data 02 File, check that the title row, Row 1 is already there. Add information about your run.
    37. Information Row -- Check to see that the information row, Row 2, is there.
    38. Headings Row -- Check to see that the columns titles row, Row 3,is there.
    39. Units Row -- Check to see that the column units row, Row 4 is there. Look over the units of each column.
    40. Save the Data 02 File
    41. Extend all formula columns -- Copy the first line of all the columns from V to BR all the way to the bottom of the data block. Block out V5 to BR5 and right click > copy. Block out all the data rows in Columns V to BR and right click > paste.
    42. Maximum, minimum, average rows

      Maximum, Minimum, Average rows

    43. Add Max, Min, Average rows at end of data -- Add these three rows into all the columns from B to AU. The equations are very simple so you can write them yourself of check back in short example file if you need to, but be sure to cover the range of all the good data rows.
    44. Hint: The Max, Min, Average values help you spot seriously out of range numbers, such as 99 or 999, as a check that the data is reasonable.

    45. Save the Data 02 File
    46. Calculations:

      Altitude columns

      Altitude columns

    47. Altitude headings -- Check the altitude headings Columns X to AB.
    48. Calculate Altitude in meters -- Check the calculate of the altitude of each of the five points in meters with the formula in Columns X to AB. Each of the five readings in a row should be in a tight group within about 50 meters of each other.
    49. Math: This calculation includes a correction for off nadir angle (means pointing down), that is the instrument was not pointed exactly straight down, but the corrections is very small. We have already thrown away data with high off nadir angles. This usually means the spacecraft was maneuvering and the data is questionable at best.

    50. Save the Data 02 File
    51. Reference information columns

      Reference information columns

    52. References -- Check Find the Reference area, BY3 to CF17. Entered latitude and longitude headings and values way out in boxes BY6, CA6, BV5 and BV6. They are put out here so they will not be sorted later. These should be the values you used for your original data request. They are needed for the longitude conversion to meters calculations.
    53. Math: A Geoid is a globe of the Moon with all the mountains leveled and the craters filled in. Here it is used like the term "sea level" on Earth. It is a reference globe so mountains can be measured as positive above it and deep craters can be measured as negative below it.

    54. Geoid Reference -- Check that the Geoid average in BR4 properly references the average for all the Geoid at the very bottom of Column C. This entry will have to be adjusted for the length of your data set.
    55. Set the Reference Long and Lat -- Enter values for longitude in BZ9 that will make a nice reference line in your finished chart. These are usually whole number degrees near the middle of your chart, 0.0 in this case. The do the same for a reference latitude in CA9.
    56. Longitude calculation columns in degrees

      Longitude calculation columns in degrees

    57. Longitude degree headings -- Check longitude headings in Columns AD to AH. These are plus or minus values measured from the center of your test rectangle. The Max, Min, Average readings are helpful to be sure these number are well behaved.
    58. Math: The original data gives longitude as 0 to 360 which makes the equations complicated. The simplest solution is to covert the longitude to plus/minus readings from the center line of the test box. This lets us end up with the symmetric keystone shape. The 360 complication is handled with the Modulo (MOD) function. This lets us run over the 360 limit and then subtract off the excess.

      Longitude calculation columns in meters

      Longitude calculation columns in meters

    59. Calculate Longitude in meters -- The longitude degrees can now be converted to meters inside the test box in Columns AJ to AN.
    60. Math: Note that the conversion of longitude degrees is dependent on the latitude. A degree of longitude gets much shorter at the poles. This warps the original rectangle into a keystone shape with the narrow side closest to the pole. This is simply a result of needing to flatten a piece of the surface of a globe onto a flat map.

    61. Save the Data 02 file
    62. Latitude calculation columns

      Latitude calculation columns

    63. Latitude headings -- Check the headings for the latitude Columns AV to AT.
    64. Calculate Latitude -- Check the latitude calculation formulas in Columns AV to AK. The altitude is calculated in meters within the test box. The distance is calculated as a fraction of a great circle all the way around the Moon.
    65. Math: The Latitude calculate is not dependent on longitude and is calculated as the fraction of the circumference of the Geoid.

    66. Save the Data 02 File
    67. Slope calculation columns

      Slope calculation columns

    68. Check Slope headings -- Check the least squared fit headings to Columns AV to AZ.
    69. Calculate Slope -- Check least squared fit formulas in Columns AV to AZ.
    70. Math: This is the heart of the calculations. The calculations find the slope of a line that best fits the plot of longitude versus altitude. It then best fits the plot of latitude versus altitude. If adjusted to pass though the D1 point, these two lines will define a plane that best represents the slope at point D1. The square root on the sum of the squares is then used to find the greatest slope in this plane and that value is converted first to angle of incidence and then to rise in meters for a run of 100 meters.

    71. Save the Data 02 File -- This is a good point to make a backup copy of the Data 02 File under another name. For example, you could save as the file onto a memory stick and replace "02" with the date.
    72. Preparing for the Slope Chart

    73. Sort by Slope -- We now need to sort the rows by slope. This is done with the Sort and Filter, Custom Sort feature. Block out all the rows from the first data Row 5 to the last data row at bottom and Columns A to AZ. Note that the slope in degrees is in Column AZ. Custom Sort by Values using Column AZ, from smallest to largest.
    74. Delete bad slopes -- Go to the bottom and delete all rows with slope values over 50 in Column AZ. Right click on selection > Delete > entire rows. In fact, the steepest lunar regolith can be piled is around 35 degrees. This effort reduced the number of good rows in the example to about 18000; all of them good.
    75. Note the Number of Rows -- Open your notes file and note the number of rows before and then after removing the bad data.
    76. Slope bins columns

      Slope bins columns

    77. Bin Slope Headings -- Check the headings for the slope bins in BB3 to BF3. You probably do not need to adjust these.
    78. Find bins steps -- Check the calculation for the slope bins in Column BB to BF. Scan down the columns and find the breaks where the entry jump from all in one column to all in the next highest. Enter the first row number for each bin in each slope level at the top in Row 1. Also note the last row number for all data. You will later need the header information and these break row numbers to make the slope graph.
    79. Math: It is a common practice to group data points that have a limited range of a particularly value into groups as if you were putting them into a bin.

    80. Rename Tab -- Rename the data tab at the bottom of the screen to something short like Data.
    81. Save the Data 02 File and notes file
    82. Drawing the Slope Chart

    83. Select location for chart -- Place the curser on a square below the reference calculations around BX14.
    84. Use Chart Wizard -- You can either edit the slope chart now in the Data 02 File or start your new slope chart from scratch. To start fresh, select the Chart Wizard, insert Scatter Chart with dots only.
    85. Size Chart -- Move the chart so its top left corner is on about BX14 and expand the chart to look as large as you can on your screen.
    86. Add to Notes File -- Open the Notes File and add the reference block, and Slope Bin Headings. This is easily done by cutting and pasting blocks of the spreadsheet.
    87. Hint:You can print out a copy of the notes for reference in making the slope chart. If you have not been keeping a notes file, then make notes on paper.

      Select Data window on chart in Excel Select Data window on chart in Open Office

      Select Data window on chart in Excel and Open Office

    88. Edit slope chart -- Right Click on chart center and Select Data. Add or check a data series for the first slope bin. Use the bin label as the title. Always use D1_Long m Column AJ for the X, and always use D1_Lat m Column AP for the Y for all series in both charts. Note that the same X and Y are used for both the Slope and Altitude charts. Carefully edit the start and end row numbers in each data group to match the range for that bin. Use the number that you entered in Row 1, BB1 to BF1. For each data series, start with the row number above the range heading and end with one less than the next value over.
    89. Format Data Series window on chart in Excel Format Data Series window on chart in Open Office

      Format Data Series window on chart in Excel and Open Office

    90. Edit Data series -- Starting on the displayed chart, right click on a data point of the new series and select Edit Data Series (you must avoid Edit Data Point). Select the Maker options for Built-in with a square of size 3; select Fill, Solid Fill and choose a distinctive color; select Line Color to No line. You may adjust the color, shape, and point sizes to what you think will look good.
    91. Add other bin series -- Repeat the following two steps for each of the slope bins. Edit the data series after each series entry or the dots will hide each other. Give each series a bright distinctive color.
    92. Inspect chart -- If you edited the chart properly, the dots should all be in straight lines. Scattered dots means there is a bad number somewhere. One digit miss entered will trash the whole chart.
    93. Reference information columns

      Reference information columns

    94. 10 Points -- Check in the Reference for a column of 10 sets of points from CE5 to CF14. These are points that define the corners of the original rectangle, two extra points to define the keystone, two points to define a reference longitude, and two points to define a reference latitude. These points let you get the size of your test area just right and later to draw reference lines on your final chart.
    95. Add 10 points series -- Add a data series for the 10 Points. Edit this data series to make strong black squares.
    96. Math: Because a test area might be above or below the Moon's equator and the keystone will always be smallest toward the poles, the 10 Point calculations must take this into account. It uses the sign of the maximum latitude to set the side of the equator the test box is on.

    97. Remove Axis -- Click on the horizontal axis and delete it completely. Repeat the delate for the vertical axis. As these numbers are in meters they are not what we will want for the finished chart.
    98. Change Background Color -- Right Click in the middle of the chart and select Format Plot Area. Select Fill then Solid Fill. Chose a nice shade of gray, such as 96, 96, 96. The average color of the Moon is about that of an asphalt parking lot.
    99. Expand reference area -- Check the additional calculations in the reference area, BZ11 to CD11, to give the size of the data box on the charts in kilometers, the correction for the keystone effect, The angle of the sides, and the ratio of X to Y for the 10 points rectangle on the chart.
    100. Make the Chart Large and the right shape -- Expand the size of the chart to make the colored areas as large as you can on your monitor. Adjust the width to height ratio as measured with a ruler on the screen to be about the same as the ratio calculated in the reference section, CC11. If you enter the screen width in BX16, the screen height will be in CA16.
    101. Save the files -- Save all the open files.
    102. Make a graphic image of the chart -- Center the slope chart on your screen, click on a box outside the chart, and hit Ctrl, PrtScn keys.
    103. Crop the Image -- Use a graphics program to read the screen from the clipboard. Use Crop function to remove anything outside four rectangle corner blocks from the 10 Points.
    104. Resize Image -- Use the resize function of your graphics program to adjust the width in pixels and the length in pixels to have the same ratio as the original rectangle in kilometers. You will need to uncheck the Preserve Aspect Ratio box and the adjust only one of the numbers. If you enter the pixel width in BX17, the pixel height will be in CA17.
    105. Save the slope graphic as a .tif file with "Slope" in the name. Although this is a larger file, .tif is much better quality than .jpg.
    106. Hint: If you want to email these graphics, save a sperate copy as a .jpg file too.

      Mt. Malapert ridge with slopes as colored dots

      Mt. Malapert ridge with slopes as colored dots

      Preparing for the Altitude Chart

    107. Move to the Altitude chart area -- The second chart should be placed directly below the first slope chart.
    108. Hint: Only one of the charts, slope or altitude, will look right at any given time depending on your last sort.

    109. Sort by Altitude -- We now need to sort the rows by D1_Alt, Column X. This is again done with the Sort and Filter, Custom Sort feature. Block out all the rows from the first data row, Row 5, to the last data row and Columns A to X. Sort by Values using Column X, from smallest to largest.
    110. Design Altitude contour bins -- Look over Column X, Max, Min to determine what range of values you need to show as contours. These bins are set for the example but you will need to adjust the altitude bins for other locations. What you need to end up with is a map with bands that give the latitude. This is called a contour map.
    111. Hint: Look at the maximum and minimum values for Column X and see if you can break the range down into 8 to 14 steps of around 500 meters each. For fine detail you can go to lesser values like the 100 meters in the example. The more steps the finer the detail but the more time it takes to make the charts.

      Altitude Bin test columns

      Altitude Bin test columns

    112. Edit Bin Headings -- Edit the bin headings to show layers of altitude. In the example they run from 1.5 km to 4.5 km in 0.5 km steps for the low altitudes and then steps of 0.1 at the top of the mountain.
    113. Edit bin values -- The maximum value for each bin are placed in BH2 to BT2 will use the values in Row 2 to group the altitude value, Column X, into bins that will chart as contours.
    114. Edit bin formulas -- The formulas in Columns BH to BT will use the values in Row 2 to group the altitude value, Column X, into bins that will chart as contours.
    115. Enter breaks -- Scan down the rows to find the break at each altitude level and enter the start number for each group in Row 1. You will need these numbers to edit the altitude chart.
    116. Complete Notes File -- Open the Notes File and add Altitude Bin Headings. This is easily done by cutting and pasting blocks of the spreadsheet. The Altitude Bin headings are so long that they need to be copied in two blocks.
    117. Hint:Print out a copy of the notes for reference in making the charts. If you have not been keeping a notes file, then make notes on paper.

    118. Save all open files.
    119. Drawing the Altitude Chart

      Select Data window on chart

      Select Data window on chart

    120. Edit the altitude chart -- Either use the altitude chart from the short example spreadsheet, or use Chart Wizard to start the same type of chart as slope. Just like before, go into the altitude chart through Data Series and edit the series start and end row numbers. Do not change any of the column letters. Add new series if needed. Don't spend a lot of time making this chart beautiful but adjacent bands should have high contrast colors. You also do not need to fool with either the axis or the background color.
    121. Hint: This is the longest and most tedious task in your spreadsheet work. Take your time and double check as you go. If you make major changes, like new bin levels, you will mess up the chart and will need extra editing time.

      Format Data Series window on chart

      Format Data Series window on chart

    122. Edit Data series -- Starting on the displayed chart, right click on a data point of the new series and select Edit Data Series (you must avoid Edit Data Point). Select the Maker options for Built-in with a square of size 3; select Fill, Solid Fill and choose a distinctive color; select Line Color to No line. If you like, you may adjust the color, shape, and point sizes to what you think will look make it easy to see adjacent rows.
    123. Add 10 points series -- Add a data series for the 10 Points. Edit this data series to make strong black squares.
    124. Visually check chart -- If you edited the chart properly, the dots should all be in straight lines and the colors should form strong contour bands.
    125. Make the chart large and adjust shape -- Expand the size of the altitude chart to make the colored areas as large as you can on your monitor just like the slope chart. Adjust the width to height ratio as measured on the screen with a ruler to be about the same as the ratio calculated in the reference section, CC11. If you enter the screen width in BX16, the screen height will be in CA16.
    126. Save the Data 02 File
    127. Make a graphic image of the chart -- Center the chart on your screen, click on a box outside the chart, and hit Ctrl and PrtScn keys.
    128. Crop the Image -- Use a graphics program to read the screen from the clipboard. Use Crop function to remove anything outside four rectangle corner blocks from the 10 Points.
    129. Resize Image -- Use the resize function of your graphics program to adjust the width in pixels and the length in pixels to have the same ratio as the original rectangle in kilometers, CC11. You will need to uncheck the Preserve Aspect Ratio box and then adjust only one of the numbers. If you enter the pixel width in BX17, the pixel height will be in CA17.
    130. Save the altitude graphic as a .tif file with "Altitude" in the name.
    131. Mt. Malapert ridge altitudes as colored contour bands

      Mt. Malapert ridge altitudes as colored contour bands

      Complete Notes and copy to Paper

    132. You'll need to know -- Review the Data 02 File Spreadsheet and make sure your note file contains the following information:
      • Width of the study area in kilometers (will be entered later in meters)
      • Height of the study area in kilometers (will be entered later in meters)
      • Width of keystone set back in kilometers (will be entered later in meters)
      • Folder and name of Altitude graphic in .tif
      • Folder and name of Slope graphic in .tif
      • A table of heights of each contour in the Altitude Graphic header (will be entered later in meters)

      This information can be found in the reference section and the altitude bin headings.

      Hint: Print out a paper copy of your completed notes.

      Beta Testers: Time to take another break and e-mail me how you are doing and any difficulties you are having. Please attach a copy of your notes, slope graphic in .jpg, and altitude graphic in .jpg.

  17. Part 3: Starting the 3D Model

    1. Hint: This is a fairly difficult SketchUp task. If you are new to this program, improve your 3D skills by running some of the many practice exercise available on the Web.

    2. Open SketchUp -- Open Google SketchUp 8 and start a new file.
    3. Save file under a distinctive name -- Build it from the Data 02 File name but use "03". This will be your 3D 03 file and the extension must be .skp .
    4. Set Preferences -- Set the preferences for meters, Window > Model Info > Units > meters and Precision to 0m.
    5. Display the Sand Box tools -- Open windows > preferences > extensions > sandbox tools
    6. Establish layers -- Window > Layers
      • 0
      • Altitude Graphic
      • Dimensions
      • Site Map
      • Terrace
      • Text
      • TIN
    7. Set write Layer -- Set the write layer to 0 with a dot in a circle.
    8. \

      Hint: Best practice for SketchUp is to do all the sketching for one group on the 0 Layer. When you have check it, you then can move it to its final resting layer.

    9. Rectangle for Altitude Graphic -- Draw a rectangle flat in the Red/Green plane staring at the origin that is the size of the study area in meters. Red Axis is north/south and Green Axis is east/west. In the example: 26644, 12126 m is entered.
    10. Hint: SketchUp was developed for architecture and is the design program for Google Earth. It can handle kilometer sized rectangles just fine.

    11. Mark for keystone -- Draw a line to measure off the keystone inset length from both ends of the rectangle along the red axis. In the example: 1267 m
    12. Draw keystone lines -- Draw lines from the top corners to the insets line ends to form the keystone shape.
    13. Set Layer -- Select the rectangle with lines and right click > Entry Info. Scroll down in the Layer box to set the layer to Altitude Graphic.
    14. Make Group -- Select the rectangle with the two keystone lines and right click. Then select Make group.
    15. Set group Layer -- Select the rectangle with lines and right click > Entry Info. Scroll down in the Layer box to set the layer to Altitude Graphic.
    16. Copy rectangle -- Copy this rectangle 1000 meter up the Blue Axis. Set the layer of this copy to Terrace.
    17. Make Transparent -- For the Terrace rectangle, set the color of both sides of the face to light gray with only 30% transparency: right click > Entry Info > click on color rectangle. Select light gray color such as 96,96,96 and then click on Edit. Slide the Opacity slide bar to 30%. This will allow you to see the Altitude graphic through this layer.
    18. Make Site map -- Copy the first rectangle again 9000 meters more up the Blue Axis. Right click on this copy and set layer to Site Map. Later you can draw your settlement on the layer. For now you can turn this layer off for now by unchecking its box in the Layer box.
    19. Move the Terrace rectangle down -- Move the Terrace rectangle back down the Blue Axis by 990 m. This will but it just above the Altitude Graphic layer but not quite touching.
    20. Save 3D 03 File
    21. Making the Terrace

    22. Turn off the Terrace layer -- Use the layer window to turn off the Terrace layer and the Site Plan layer.
    23. Set write layer to Altitude Graphic -- Use the layer window round radio button to set the write layer to the Altitude Graphic layer.
    24. Import Altitude Graphic -- Import the Altitude Graphic .tif file and paste it into the altitude rectangle: File > Import. Check the round radio box for Use as Image. Place the two corners of the graphic onto the rectangle in the Altitude Graphic layer.
    25. Adjust size -- Adjust the size of the graphic with the Scale Tool (it looks like a little brown square in a larger white square with a red arrow) to fit the rectangle if necessary. If you scaled the image well earlier, it will already fit the rectangle nicely. You may have to roll the image upside down to see the edges clearly.
    26. Review the graphic -- Pan around and see if it looks right. The keystone lines on the bottom should just about line up with the 10 points in the graphic. End by using Camera > Standard Views > Top
    27. Set viewing layers -- In the Layers window, check the box on the O for drawing. Set visible layers for 0 Layer,Altitude Graphic, andTerrace with check in their square boxes.
    28. Seeing Through -- Inspect that you can clearly see the Altitude Graphic through the Terrace layer. You should be able to clearly see sharp edges of the colored bands that make up a contour map. You will need to be very close and looking straight down.
    29. Hint: The next few steps to build the terrace are tedious and time consuming but have to be done with great care. Take your time and take breaks. You can either start at the center and work out or start at the top edge and work down.

    30. Set parallel view -- Using Camera > Parallel Project to parallel. This helps you when looking straight down.
    31. Draw contour lines -- Use the line drawing tool (looks like a pencil) to draw a series of connected lines, starting at the edge near the top on the left and working along the color change line. You will have to zoom in very close from the top to have good control as the tool tries to jump to be straight from the last line. Where several lines cross you can use one line end and where there are large gaps you will have to guess a point or two. Regularly return back to the Camera > Standard Views > Top to be sure that you are looking straight down.
    32. Close out face -- Close out the faces by drawing lines along the borders. Use the keystone lines for the two ends. The new terrace level should now form a face and have a faint blue dot pattern. If it does not, carefully search the entire border for a break between line segments or line segments that have raised off the plane.
    33. Pull-up the contour -- Use the Pull-up Tool to pull-up the new terrace level in the Blue Axis direction by a good bit. Enter the correct terrace value in the number box in meters. In the example the first level is 1500 m.
    34. Stay perpendicular -- Regularly return to the standard top view. Camera > Standard > Top
    35. Draw remaining contours -- Continue this process of for reach terrace level. This work takes several hours.
    36. Review -- Review the terraces to be sure that they increase in height by appropriate stair steps. Look for missing lines, stray lines, or lines out of plane.
    37. Save the 3D 03 File
    38. Front View -- Go to the standard Front view. Camera > Standard > Front
    39. Limit View -- On Layers window, check off all layers except 0 Layer. The Altitude graphic should disappear..
    40. Block off bottom -- Carefully block off all the area below the terrace surfaces moving from right to left using the Select arrow tool.
    41. Delete lower parts of terraces -- Delete all the selected items with the Delete key.
    42. Carefully Inspect -- Inspect that you not deleted any part of the top surface. If so, un-do and try again.
    43. Repeat -- Repeat the delate and inspect process until everything below the top surfaces is erased. Be sure that all stray lines are gone. This is important.
    44. Inspect carefully -- Inspect the top surface to see if there are missing lines, lines off plane, or missing surfaces. The relative heights of the terraces are more important than the height of the whole group. Draw in any missing lines, which should then automatically make the missing surfaces. Erase and redraw any line that are out of plane.
    45. Mt. Malapert ridge as a 3D model of tarraces

      Mt. Malapert ridge as a 3D model of terraces

    46. Explode groups -- Select the entire Terrace structure and see if you can Explode it. Right Click > Explode The next step cannot be done on group.
    47. Set Layer -- Make the Terrace layer visible, but leave Layer 0 as the writing layer. Select the entire Terrace structure and put it on the Terrace layer. Right click > entry info > Terrace
    48. Save the 3D 03 file
    49. Making the TIN (Triangulate Irregular Network) Terrain

    50. Check write layer -- Check that write layer is still 0 Layer. Turn off the Altitude Graphic layer.
    51. Select the Terrace -- Select everything on the Terrace level. Every line and surface should now be blue.
    52. Make the TIN -- On the Sand Box tools select: from Contours > sandbox tools > from Contours
    53. Wait for it -- Wait for TIN to be drawn, this takes about 1 minutes
    54. Turn off the Terrace -- In Layers window, turn off the Terrace layer
    55. Prepare to edit the TIN -- Select the TIN. Move it to the TIN layer. It is a group so Right Click > Edit Group .
    56. Move the TIN up -- Use the move tool to move the TIN 50 meter up in the Blue direction. This stops it from interfering with the Terrace faces.
    57. View the Triangles -- Turn on hidden graphics: View > Hidden Graphics. This turns on the network of triangles.
    58. Look for stray points -- Inspect the TIN for stray points. Use the Move tool to move any stray points back into the surface. If there are a lot of such points, you have too many stay lines; back up, clean up the Terrace, and try generating a TIN again. For the text step the TIN must be perfect.
    59. Turn off the Triangles -- Turn off hidden graphics: View > Hidden Graphics
    60. Change Layer and Color -- Make the TIN layer visible, but leave Layer 0 visible. Select the entire TIN structure and put it on the TIN layer.
    61. Save 3D 03 File
    62. Laying down the Slope Graphic with Match New Photo

      Caution -- Take care, the next part is complex and tricky. There are a number of ways you might go about this in SketchUp but this one is the only one that does this specific thing. This process only works on a well formed TIN, which only forms if the Terrace surfaces are perfect and without stray lines.

    63. Top View -- Go to the standard Front view and center the TIN in your monitor. Camera > Standard > top
    64. Select the TIN -- Select the TIN shape and look for blue box
    65. Open Match Photo Window -- Open Window > Match Photo then press the Circle with Plus sign. You must use this specific path.
    66. .
    67. Import your slope file -- Find the file with the Slope Graphic .tif and click import.
    68. New Frame forms automatically -- Note that there is a new Scene tab for the graphic but do not touch it.
    69. Review the Match Photo window -- In the Match Photo window, the Project textures from photo box must be black and available. If it is gray or missing, then the TIN has too many problems to photo-map or there are other problems. You have to back all the way up to the Terrace steps and check for stray or missing lines. It does not take much to spoil the TIN or to get sidetracked on one of the other similar paths that do not work here.
    70. Caution: -- Do not scroll around just yet. You might accidentally fall out of this special edit mode.

    71. Hide the Model -- In the Match Photo window, uncheck Model. This hides a distorted version of the model that appears in gray but it simply confuses the picture now.
    72. Find the key graphic elements:
      • Find the two red dashed lines with boxes at the end
      • Find the two green lines with boxes at the end
      • Find the yellow box at the origin of red/green/blue lines
    73. Rough move the green end boxes:
      • Move the top green square with its line end to near top left corner of the graphic rectangle
      • Move the other end of this green line to near bottom left corner of the graphic rectangle
      • Move the second green square with its line end to near top right corner of the graphic rectangle
      • Move the other end of this green line to near bottom right corner of the graphic rectangle
    74. Test navigation -- Check that you can now move the image left, right, and zoom (but not rotate) by pressing the center scroll wheel on the mouse.
    75. Rough move the red end boxes:
      • Move the top red square with its line end to near top left corner of the graphic rectangle
      • Move the other end of this red line to near top right left corner of the graphic rectangle
      • Move the red square with its line end to near bottom left corner of the graphic rectangle
      • Move the other end of this red line to near bottom right corner of the graphic rectangle
    76. Locate the origin box -- Move the yellow origin box to the bottom left corner of the graphic
    77. Turn the model back on -- In the Match Photo window, click the Model on.
    78. Check the Model location -- The model should appear as a gray keystone shape directly under the image.
      • If it appears below, reverse the ends of both green lines.
      • If it appears to the right, reverse the ends of both red lines
    79. Precise box placement -- Return to the four green boxes and place them precisely one box width from the corners of the graphic. Leave just enough room to get your curser on the other boxes. Be very sure that the green dotted line lies right on top of the edge of the graphic. It is very sensitive. Do the same for the red boxes. It is important that the green and red dashed lines lie directly on the edges of the graphic rectangle (not the keystone).
    80. Scale the model to the graphic -- Scale the model to fit the graphic
      • Place the mouse pointer directly on top of the Red Axis and watch for a double headed arrow to show.
      • Move the arrow back and forth to scale the model to the graphic.
      • You can also move the Yellow Origin box around slightly to improve the fit.
    81. Project the graphic -- In the Match Photo window, click on the Project textures from photo box. This is what you have been working for hours to do.
    82. Answer questions -- Answer Yes to all questions that come up. These are your only indication of progress.
    83. Wait for it -- Wait at least two full minutes.
    84. Complete process -- Click on Done.
    85. Return to normal SketchUp Mode -- Click on any other scene tab or rotate the scene. You should now jump back in normal edit mode.
    86. Check out the model -- Check to see if the graphic has nicely laid onto your TIN terrain.
    87. Hint: A common failure is to have a different piece of the graphic appear on each triangle of the TIN. If this occurs there is nothing to do but back up to the TIN and move forward again. You have made some small miss step.

    88. Save the 3D 03 file -- Take a break.
    89. Finishing Up

      Move the Terrace out of the way -- User Layers to turn off TIN and turn on Terrace. Use the move tool to move the Terrace structure 200 meter or more down in the Blue direction to get it out of the way. This stops it from interfering with the TIN faces. User Layers to turn off Terrace and turn on TIN. Move the TIN down -- Use the move tool to move the TIN exactly 60 meter down in the Blue direction. This places it at the correct altitude.
    90. Make it look pretty -- Spend a completely unjustified amount of time making the graphic look pretty.
    91. Add text -- Say where it is. Sign your work. Add link or email address.
    92. Color any white areas gray -- If there are white areas peaking out around the edge you can color them gray.
    93. Add dimensions -- in kilometers
    94. Geo-Locate it -- Enter Geo-Location manually as: Windows > Model Info > Geo-Location, Country: Moon
    95. Add Reference Lines -- Use the remaining four 10 Points squares to draw a reference longitude line and a reference latitude line.
    96. Save File and back up
    97. Beta Testers: Time to take another break and finish up. E-mail me how you are did and any difficulties you are had. Please attach a copy of your notes and a .jpg graphic of your finished product.

      Mt. Malapert ridge as a 3D model with slope textured as colored dots

      Mt. Malapert ridge as a 3D model with slope textured as colored dots

      What could be simpler! (and only 188 steps)



  18. Conclusions

  19. First: Congratulations, you have now demonstrated your ability to take the latest scientific data and reduce it down to useful charts and maps. There are not all that many people who can do this.

    The top of Mount Malapert has an area suitable for a human settlement with slopes below 10% above its 5500 km level covering an area of about 6 square kilometers . This is the area that has continuous Earth view and sun view above 95% of the time limited by only the local terrain.

    It also has a larger area of at least 16 square kilometers at the 5000 to 5500 kilometer level with slopes below 10%. This area is suitable for an extended landing area, but the sun is blocked for about 1/4 of the time by the peak itself.

    Most of the areas to the north, east, and south of the mountain top ridge are so steep that they are too dangerous to an emergency landing or even traverse in a wheeled vehicle. This is a real danger but is to be expected for any mountain ridge location.

    There is a natural ramp from the peak to the west that can probably be traveled by wheeled vehicles. The ridge does narrow in several places which could make ground travel challenging. These trails warrant farther study.

    Future study area reserved for students

    Future study area reserved for students

  20. What's Next?

  21. Much more work is needed. Here are a few more rectangles that need to be analyzed:

    Study Location Name Longitude Latitude Reason for Study Status
    Malapert Peak Mt. Malapert 352° to 6° -85.8° to -86.2° Great settlement site Complete
    Malapert Trail West Mt. Malapert 338° to 352° -85.8° to -86.2° Trail off the mountain New
    Malapert Trail South Mt. Malapert 346° to 360° -86.2° to -86.6° Trail off the mountain New
    Dark Crater Permanently dark crater 352° to 6° -86.8 to -87.2 Water Resource First cut started
    Shoemaker Settlement Shoemaker Ridge 25.0° to 32.5°, 32.5° to 40° -85.2° to -85.8° Great settlement site, area reserved for students new
    Apollo 15 Hadley Rille 26.132° N 3.633° E Photography available New
    Apollo 16 Descartes Highlands 8.97° S 15.500° E Photography available New
    Apollo 17 Taurus-Littrow 20.10° N 20.50° E Photography available New
    Pole Site Crater Shackleton 90° S Original proposal for return to the Moon site New
    Tycho Crater Tycho 43° S 13° E Very new, large crater New
    Volcano Vallis Schroteri 25.5° N 49° E Volcanic vent New
    Lava Tubes Rima Ariadaeus 7.5° N 7° E Possible lava tubes New
    Lava Tubes Rima Galilaei 13.5° N ? 58.5° W ? Claimed lava tubes New
    The Wall Rupes Recta 22° S 7.5° W Shear fault wall 240 meters tall New
    Highest Mountain Mount Engelhard 4.8° to 6.8° N 200.2° to 202.2° E Highest point on the Moon New
    Lowest Point Unknown -87°? S 180°? E Find the lowest point on the Moon New

    Table 4, Interesting lunar locations for farther study

    Please take moment and e-mail me about your ideas on using this process.

  22. New Directions for this Analysis

  23. The slope graphic is just a start:

  24. Limits of this Analysis

  25. To reduce the size of the data set, this analysis has been simplified in two ways:

    With these limitations, this approach is adequate for a general engineering study but should be farther refined before an actual mission is planned.

    The lunar temperature cycle, taken from David Schrunk, <i>The Moon</i>.

    he lunar temperature cycle, taken from David Schrunk, The Moon

  26. Questions and Answers

  27. Here are some questions and answers about technical ideas related to this project:

    1. Why settle the lunar poles? -- There are three reasons for placing our first settlements at the lunar poles, (1) temperature, 2) power, and (3) water.
      1. Maximum daytime temperature -- As shown above, the surface temperature at the equator at midday can reach 120 C degrees. This high temperatures just puts to much risk on people to allow outside activities. Remember the Apollo spent three days on the Moon in the morning. If their departure was delayed only by two days, they would have died of the heat. Polar sites have much lower maximum daytime temperatures.
      2. Maximum direct sunlight for power -- The lunar night last 1/2 a month. Equipment to store power for this length of time would simply be too massive. There are polar sites with sunlight available 95% of the time.
      3. Proximity to resources -- There are also cold, dark craters near the poles that contain recoverable amounts of water. Although difficult to mine, this water is a great resource.

    2. What is the sun's path at the poles? -- On both the Earth and the Moon, near the poles the sun goes round and round. It raises at a flat angle and follows a path that hugs the horizon. By midday it is in a position opposite the point it rose but only a few degrees above the horizon. On the Earth is will reach about 23 degrees but on the Moon it will only reach about 6 degrees. Furthermore, the Moon has a large and very deep depression on the southern back side that allows southern near-side peaks, like Mt. Malapert, to get even more sun.

    3. Why are flat areas rare on the Moon? -- Very large flat areas on Earth, like the ocean bottom and great planes, are created by a combination of water and plate tectonics. The Moon has never seen either of these action agents so most of the surface of the Moon slopes a little this way and that. The flattest regions are low areas that have been flooded by liquid lava. Most of these are on the Earth Side. The rest of the Moon is covered with craters of all sizes and the rocks thrown out by distance cratering. The cratering process has often left us with very difficult terrain to build on or even travel over.

    4. Blinded by the Light -- When driving on the Moon the sun is so harsh and the regolith is such a good light diffuser that you cannot see to drive directly into the sun. You either have to zig-zag to keep it out of your eyes or carefully time your trips so it is behind you.


    Please take moment and e-mail me with any questions you have.

  28. External References

  29. More information on key topics can be found at:

    There are also many recent very good books that you may be able to get through your library or order over the Web:


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