A team of scientists working with the CosmoQuest virtual research facility (CosmoQuest.org) have shown that it is possible for everyday people to map the Moon with the same quality as a group of experienced professionals.
CosmoQuest is a second-generation citizen science site run out of the STEM Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) by Dr. Pamela L. Gay.
MoonMappers is led by researchers Stuart Robbins (University of Colorado, Boulder) and Irene Antonenko (Planetary Institute of Toronto). CosmoQuest community members are the first citizen scientists to demonstrate volunteers can accurately identify planetary surface features.
With over 500 million craters on the Moon alone, and new data coming in from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter daily, there is quite a lot of science to be furthered.
According to Gay, the role of citizen science and scientists is clear.
In a statistical comparison between the results of eight professional crater counters, and MoonMapper's cadre of amateur counters from around the world, it was shown that the combined results are consistent across both groups even across varied types of craters.
This study also showed that the variation in counts between different professionals could be as much as 35 per cent while there was a 1 to 1 relationship between the combined professional counts and the citizen scientist counts.
The findings are set to be published in the journal Icarus.