Joel Miller, Gainesville State College
Where's a place that everyone can see from their backyard, but only 12 men have gone? Despite the desire among scientists all over the world to return to the moon, no one has done it...yet. This map is bizarre because it maps an area that's at the same time familiar and alien, reachable and too far away.
The idea behind my project is to take lunar base site selection studies that were completed before the widespread
use of GIS software such as ESRIís ArcGIS software and using the same criteria of the study along with GIS
software and methods to determine the best locations for a lunar base. The site selection study that I used as
the basis for my project was a workshop titled “Developing A Site Selection Strategy for a Lunar
Outpost” hosted by the Solar System Exploration Division at Johnson Space Center in 1990¹. I
selected a small sample of the criteria published in the documents resulting from the workshop to evaluate using
GIS datasets due to time limitations my class project:
The following criteria must be met by any site selected:
- The ideal location is located at a mare-highland geologic contact
- The maximum distance the base may be located from the contact is 15 kilometers²
Once the required criteria are met, each potential site was scored based on the following:
- Location maximizes potential for extraction of lunar resources such as Hydrogen and Oxygen
- Location minimizes the amount of KREEP elements present
- Distance to various locations of geologic or geophysics interest such as craters containing impact melt or crater with fractured floor
To accomplish this I used data from the Lunar Prospector mission downloaded from NASA for elemental abundances in lunar soil and a geologic map of the near side of the moon produced and distributed by USGS³. The data came in geographic format, but I reprojected it into a sinusoidal projection to maintain equal area for the 15km x 15km site grid I created. The ideal site score is 100. More details are available upon request.
¹ NASA, “A Site Selection Strategy for a Lunar Outpost” (Solar Systems Exploration Division, NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, 1990).
² The 15 km constraint comes from the maximum distance that the Apollo-era Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) was allowed to travel from the Lunar Module (LM) on the surface of the moon. The maximum distance the LRV was permitted from the LM was approximately 9.7 kilometers, the distance the crew could safely walk to the LM in the event of a total LRV failure. This walk-back distance limitation was based upon the consumables available in the astronauts' portable life support systems. I increased the distance to 15km, assuming some improvements in suit technology and/or the use of multiple vehicles to reduce the risk if one fails as this distance. From http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/mwade/craft/apololrv.htm
³ D.E. Wilhelms and J. F. McCauley, “USGS Map I-703,” 1971.