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FARSIDE Lunar Dome Survey and NEARSIDE Lunar cone Survey
Two combined ALS/GLR projects



By Raffaello Lena (gibbidomine@libero.it)
ALS-GLR Coordinator for the FARSIDE Lunar Dome Survey and Lunar Cone Survey

1. Introduction

With this issue we open two projects that will devote their efforts to the Farside Lunar Dome Survey (FLDS) and Lunar cone Survey (LCS).
We anticipate that these projects will be quite valuable to the astronomical community.
As the USGS digitizes all Lunar Orbiter images at high resolution, we will use these to create an inventory of farside lunar domes and lunar cones.
Our purpose is to coordinate and compile two catalogues of Farside Lunar Domes and Lunar Cones specifically for use on the web. Both catalogues would include a small, but useful image of each feature. By the way we will also produce a map showing the locations of the farside lunar domes and nearside lunar cones.


2. Lunar Cone Survey (LCS)

Cones are difficult features to observe, due to their small size, and in many amateur images they appear as unresolvable features. However we now have access to LOPAM and Apollo imagery, and so can examine these constructs in finer detail. This project is intended as an introductory guide for observers interested in locating cones, and doing more work in this challenging area of lunar study. Volcanic cones are constructed by the accumulation of pyroclastic materials. On the Earth, cinder cones form when small gas-driven eruptions fragment lava, extruding it in small 'cinders' that pile up around a central vent.

Lunar cones come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common shape is a circular, slightly dome shaped structure with a high slope and a central crater or fissure. Most are less than 100m high with diameters of 2-3km, and have a low albedo.

A volcanic cinder cone in Iceland is shown in Figure 1 (at end of article)

Instead of a volcanic cone, some lunar eruptions formed a broad, thin layer around the central vent (a dark mantling deposit).

Our purpose is as follows:

1) determine a classification of lunar cones using standard criteria.

2) plot the location of the observed cones on our maps .

3) observe and image lunar cones using telescopes. The main reason earth based lunar observers previously had ignored lunar cones was the difficulty in observing them.  Nevertheless, earth-based preliminary observations are important, and will be included in the LCS catalogue we are compiling.

4) coordinate and share information with other interested observers.


2.1 Standard criteria for LCS


"We divide lunar cones into 5 categories based on their cross-sectional profile, dimension and central feature present on the summit (figure 2, at end of article). Each category is given a letter or number. Combining these data should provide a clear description for cone classification. Our proposed scheme for lunar cones is reproduced below:

 

 


From the diameter of known craters (dc) in the field of view it is possible to create a scale (in km), and then to measure the dimensions of a cone.

cone (km)=[dc(km)/dc(pixel)] x cone(pixel)

Observers are urged to give an exact size in their submitted notes. Observations of lunar cones in the form of images, drawings and/or notes may be sent directly to the section coordinator by e-mail using a standard format (Table 2). The observations received, as well as selected cones in need of observation, will be included in Selenology and/or the ALS updates.


Table 2- Lunar Cones Standard Reporting Form

The catalogue will be used to:
(1) Verify the existence of a cone at the indicated location using the Xi - Eta lunar orthographic co-ordinate system and lunar longitude and latitude ();
(2) accurately plot the location of the observed cone on the Lunar Quadrant Maps and Ruki charts,
(3) accurately estimate the dimension of the cone.

3. FARSIDE Lunar Dome Survey (FLDS1)
This new project will devote its efforts to discovering, characterizing and cataloging as many farside domes as possible. Here it is necessary both to analyze statistically the characteristics and distribution of domes on the farside, and to understand their geologic setting. "We will use the "Westfall classification for our farside dome project. At present we are entering all of the survey's dome into a computer data base. In the meantime we also welcome your data in our combined efforts. The farside list will be compiled in a "working" catalogue. Our purpose is as follows:
1) determine a classification of farside lunar domes.
2) plot the location of the observed lunar domes on our maps.
3) understand the geology. Preliminary data about domes we have detected on LOPAM imagery will be included in the FLDS catalogue we are currently writing.
4) coordinate and share information with other interested observers.

We are excited by the prospects of the ALS and GLR doing good science in this poorly examined area. The catalogue will be used to verify the existence of a farside dome at the indicated location using the Xi - Eta lunar orthographic co-ordinate system and lunar longitude and latitude ().

Data about farside lunar domes in the form of images and notes should be sent directly to the section coordinator by e-mail using also the standard List Reporting Form:

A list of farside domes and their interpretation will be included in Selenology and/or the ALS-GLR updates. You can contribute to this area of study, and at the same time will learn to view the moon as an astronomical object in need of more study and where amateurs can make useful scientific contributions.


4. Final Comments
I welcome any members who wish to participate in these joint ALS/GLR projects. Please e-mail me gibbidomine@libero.it. These two projects will work by using the Internet as a communication platform in real time coordinating observing programs and events.

Being a new ALS Coordinator for two projects, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all GLR observers for their interest. Many thanks to C.Wood for his stimulating discussion.
An international participation will be welcome to foster increased cooperation among lunar observers worldwide. It is a honour for me to take this position and I will do my best to make FARSIDE Lunar Dome Survey and Lunar cone Survey significant for ALS and GLR group.



Figure 1.  Iceland, a cone near Myvatn. Photo taken by Lucilla Nicolai and the author 10 august 1987.

Figure 2.  Scheme used by Breed (1964):Morphology and lineation of cinder cones in the San Franciscan volcanic field. Museum of northern Arizona bulletin N.40, 65-71

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