While I was in Arizona learning about media and emojis, I also took an afternoon to visit my college roommate, who now works as a research analyst for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). Her team creates detailed maps and models of the moon’s surface, and their work is best experienced by slipping on a pair of 3D glasses and exploring the maps on one of these computers:
But even without access to the tech, the LROC mission has released a lot of fascinating images. One person I met was excited to show me “proof” of the Apollo 11 mission: thanks to the lack of atmosphere, the landing site and rover tracks can still be seen on the moon’s surface.
They’ve also released a data visualization tool that you can try out yourself. QuickMap allows users to overlay vector data on a 3D model of the moon — I used it to chart craters that are between 5 and 20 km in diameter (blue) and Copernican craters, the moon’s youngest craters (pink), as in they’re less than one billion years old.
While in Tempe, I also saw some new, not-yet-released visualizations that make very interesting use of color. I’ll update this once they’re made public!