October 30, 2013

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Feel the Moon

South Pole model from Howard Fink (Shackleton is in the middle).

Howard doesn't like 2-D. Over the last few years he has made a series of models of the lunar surface based on topographic data. Previously reproduction was by 3-D printing which is slow and somewhat costly. Now, Howard has improved his models in two ways. First, he uses the very high resolution LOLA altimetry data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and second, the maps are pressure molded - I suppose that might be the term - out of white plastic (styrene) with the relief map section 9 inches on a side. The entire model is 12 by 18 inches, which makes it perfect for a wall display. In fact, it needs to mounted so that grazing ilumination can depict the topography as in the image above. The charts contain lunar maps that show the model location, a colorized version with crater names, and a QR link to the Lunar Astronautical Charts published by the US Geological Survey. Currently, there are two models of the poles (wide and close) and one of Tsiolkovskiy on the far side of the Moon. Coming soon are Aristarchus Plateau, Boussingault, Clavius, Copernicus, Gassendi, Sinus Iridum, Tycho, Mount Malapert, Whipple, and Hadley Rille (Apollo 15). Although the polar charts will be of great interest to scientists studying the poles, I think that the familar features such as Copernicus and the Aristarchus Plateau may be of more interest to observers with a general interest in the Moon. The models are cheap enough ($25 unframed and $50 framed) that individuals, astronomy clubs and schools can collect examples of the major lunar terrain types - for example, I hope Howard adds the Altai Scarp quadrant of the Nectaris Basin. With the addition of some written curriculum guides these could be not just dramatic displays but also very effective learning tools, especially for blind students. I need more wall space.

Chuck Wood
PS - I hope many LPOD visitors purchase some of these models to encourage Howard to continue his innovative work!

Related Links
21st Century Atlas chart L4.
Howard's website

Yesterday's LPOD: 50 Years Later - not Forgotten, not Confirmed

Tomorrow's LPOD: A Dark And Stormy Night


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