Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which regions of the Moon are we seeing?

A: Even with your help, the sheer volume of images supplied by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter threatens to overwhelm us. The science team have selected the most interesting of the images from LRO's first six months, but there are plenty more waiting in reserve. You can find out where you’ve been treading with My Moon Zoo.

Q: I think I've seen this part of the Moon before?

A: The odds on anyone except the keenest denizens of Moon Zoo getting too many repeat images are low as the systems chooses images randomly. We do show the same part of the Moon at three separate scales, though, in order to collect a full range of crater sizes and to cross-check our results.

Q: How do I know I'm any good?

A: Relax! We're sure you are. This sort of pattern recognition is something humans are very good at, and so just take your best guess at each image as it comes up. Several people will be shown each image, so don't worry too much about making a simple mistake. If you want some more guidance, then revisit the tutorial or read the extended version.

Q: What happens to the classifications I provide?

A: They're stored with those provided by everyone who comes to Moon Zoo. The Moon Zoo team will carefully analyse the results to make sure that collectively we’re producing results that are useful to scientists — keep an eye on the Moon Zoo blog for details. All results will eventually be made public for anyone to use.

Q: How can I change a classification?

A: If you'd like to change your mind during working on a particular image, you can delete craters you've marked using the X button. Once you've finished an image, and your classification has been submitted to our database, then you can't change it, but don't worry — we compare classifications from multiple users so someone else will correct any mistakes.

Q: Can I redo a classification?

A: It is not possible to redo a classification, as we want each one to be independent. Allowing classifications to be replaced would open up the possibility of classifiers discussing images and changing their classifications to agree with one another. This would reduce our ability to understand the uncertainties in the classifications. However, don't worry about our final results: each image will be looked at by many people, so on average the classification is likely to be correct, and occasional mistakes don't matter.

Q: Why do you need many people to look at each image?

A: If one person does the classification — even if they're an expert — then anything odd or interesting can be blamed on them. With multiple independent classifications we can statistically calculate the confidence in our classification, and that's a large part of the power of Moon Zoo.

Q: In My Moon, some of the markers are off the map - have I left the lunar surface all together?

A: This normally happens at the lunar poles. We've included these areas because they're incredibly important scientifically - especially the South pole, where we now know that there is water hidden at the bottom of craters that never see the Sun. Unfortunately, Google Moon (which powers 'My Moon') doesn't include these areas, and so you seem to have wandered off the map.