Exploring the Moon's Albedo Using PDS Map-A-Planet Data

Access Moon Albedo Data from USGS Map a Planet
This page was prepared by Aleshia Mueller in collaboration with Kirk Borne, Robert T. Sparks, Nick Haddad, Carol Christan, Kareen Borders, and Steven Croft.
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The Dataset

This data is from the Clementine Lunar Mission. Data is available as images and is searchable by latitude and longitude. Users can adjust the image scale. Students will also make use of mineral maps from The Planetary Science Research Discoveries organization.

Use and Relevance

To determine how a planetary body formed and evolved, we must determine the chemical compositions of distinctive geologic regions on it. It is never possible to obtain enough samples of a planet to do this job thoroughly, so planetary scientists have searched for ways of determining chemical compositions from orbit, which would allow chemical mapping of the entire surface.

The Clementine Spacecraft, which was launched in 1994, set out to undertake such chemical mapping. It used eleven different wavelenghts to map the Moon for 70 days from polar orbit. This data can be used to identify minerals on the moon and to assess the physical features of the landing site and other areas of scientific interest. For example, during its mission, Clementine found evidence of ice in craters near the polar regions.

Use in Teaching

This data can be used to teach or learn the following topics and skills in planetary geology:



Exploring the Data

Data Type and Presentation

The data is presented as jpegs. The jpeg images can be retrieved by latitude and longitude.

Accessing the Data

Go to the Moon Albedo Advanced Version and type in the latitude and longitude of the area of interest. Select a scale of about .1km/pixel. Click submit.

Manipulating Data and Creating Visualizations

Students can use ImageJ to make linear measurements, make enhancements, do area measurements, and construct overlays from the mineral maps.

Tools for Data Manipulation

The Clementine site contains its own visualization tool that students can use to explore. Users can download ImageJ for free.

About the Data

Collection Methods

Data was collected through remote sensing via satellite and transmitted by radio signal. Post-processing involved stretching, scaling, and mosaicing.

Limitations and Sources of Error

There is not a complete spectrum of the surface. There are resolution limits. As with all remote sensing data, students are seeing only the outermost layer (i.e. micrometeorites alter the surface chemically and mechanically).

References and Resources

Scientific References that Use this Dataset

Other Related Scientific References

Other related Education Resources

Related Links