CosmoQuestScience & Astronomy
22. April 2015

The Lego Curiosity Rover says – go map the Moon on! Or you can go planet mapping on Mercury or asteroid mapping on Vesta – and soon you can continue on a world solely inhabited by robots!

This is a post I originally wrote last year, but with another CosmoQuest Hangoutathon coming this weekend, it’s time for a repost in a slightly updated version.

The mapping projects have always been a cornerstone of the citizen science projects of CosmoQuest, allowing everybody to contribute to science in an easy, instantly understandable way. Crowdsourcing the identification of craters and other unusual landmarks on the Moon, Mercury and Vesta is as easy as drawing a circle on the screen, but helps the scientific understanding of these surfaces. And the success is there – in March 2014, the Moon Mappers study was accepted in Icarus, a major peer-reviewed scientific journal, showing that crater identification by citizen scientists is practically as good as if experts were doing it. Three years after the beginning of CosmoQuest, the idea of creating a virtual research lab has been scientifically proven to be extremely useful.

But what does this really mean for the participating non-scientist? In preparation for last year’s hangoutathon fundraiser, a new series of articles headlined Your Science Results Explained were giving the answers to this question, because the original paper is admittedly not so easy to understand for non-scientists. But leave it to CosmoQuest to boil the publication down to a more easy level, because this is what they do best: making science accessible for everyone!

To get started with the Moon-, Mercury- or Vesta-Mapping, all you need is to register for free on – this login also works for their Forum as well – and start circling craters and marking other unusual features on the Mappers websites. You will be shown an introductory video guide the first time you log in so you will know what to do, but all in all it’s fairly easy and fascinating as well, because you get to explore the surfaces in great detail and often see images nobody has ever closely looked at before. The mappers websites not only work on the desktop PC, but also on tablets snd even smartphones. Drawing the circles on the tablet is a bit tricky especially on small display sizes, but even on 7″ devices it works well especially if you can use a stylus. The website has also been completely overhauled in 2014 and now works much better across devices and screens of all sorts.

There is also a free Android app called Moon Mappers Crater Decay from CosmoQuest which lets you grade crater images on their level of decay. And you can also buy their educational game Earth or Not Earth for $1.99 (or €1.49 if you’re in Europe) with the proceeds going to CosmoQuest to fund their programmers – the app is also available for iOS devices now. Even if you don’t want to play it, it’s a great way to make a micro-donation!

And regarding donations, of course you can always give to CosmoQuest, but if you can’t, at least spread the word and support them by doing a little public outreach. And watch the Hangoutathon this weekend, it will be amazing!

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