April 26, 2009
This is a guide to selecting your Shadow Shaping region. First of all, to get specific information on a particular region, click on it on the map below. This map will appear in each region’s description so you do not need to return here to access it. Just continue to click from region to region, as you would like.
Each regional description includes:
- An indication of where the area is located on the map by shading in that area
- A visual image of the general area (the borders may not be precise)
- A detailed topographical map
- A detailed geographical survey
It is strongly recommended that you study these so that you can make an informed decision when you bid on a license for a particular region.
There are four main things to consider when choosing a Shadow Shaping region on the moon:
Generally there are two types of lunar terrain, seas and highlands. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
The seas, or maria in Latin, are the dark areas you see on the moon. They are called seas because early astronomers thought these areas were filled with water. They were actually filled with liquid, basaltic lava. Now the lava has long since solidified and has been covered with meters of lunar dust called the regolith layer.
The advantage that seas have is that they are relatively flat. This means that your Shadow Shaping robots can travel much faster, creating lunar images sooner. A flat terrain also provides better shadow concentration; the shadow shaping ridges on your terrain will get dark at the same time making the overall image darker. However, images with concentrated shadows do not last as many days during the lunar cycle.
The disadvantage of the seas is that the background for your lunar images will be darker, providing less contrast so your images will stand out less. They will still stand out. Evidence of this is the contrast seen in the first step on the moon, which was in the Sea of Tranquility.
The highlands, or terrae (Latin for land), are the light areas you see on the moon. Their advantage is that they are covered with a lighter colored lunar dust. This provides better contrast for your lunar images. The challenge with the highlands is the rough terrain.
Your Shadow Shaping robots will need to travel slower and be better equipped for traversing hills, mountains and craters. An uneven terrain will also cause shadow dilution since the Shadow Shaping ridges will not create shadows at the same time during the lunar cycle making the overall image lighter, but also making it last for more days during the lunar cycle.
Whether you choose seas or highlands, or both, it is best to work with the terrain. If a crater or mountain casts a shadow at the same time during the lunar cycle as your image appears, use it as part of your image. This is less area that you need to Shadow Shape. However, remember that natural shadows typically happen once during the lunar cycle. Images that result from Shadow Shaping will typically appear twice during a lunar cycle as the sun hits the shadow shaping ridges on either side. Thousands of 1 cm ridges blending together are more shadow symmetric than a single thousand-meter crater ridge.
The old adage “location, location, location” applies to real estate on the Moon as well as on Earth. Since the Moon is a sphere and not a disk, the regions that are closer to the visible edges of the Moon are at a greater angle to the Earth. This means that your Shadow Shaping robots will need to traverse more area to produce the same amount of visible area from Earth. The central regions are more desirable because, assuming all other factors are equal, the effort involved in creating lunar images is less.
This is a personal consideration more than a technical one. How big do you want your image to be? You could create an image that only takes up part of your region, which would only be visible with a telescope, or by astronauts as they fly near the moon. Or you could license multiple adjacent regions and make an image that can be seen with the naked eye.
Obviously the premium regions have higher licensing fees, but maybe you are not interested in imaging. Maybe you just want the publicity or notoriety that would come with being one of the few that have actually been able to license this technology. There are only 44 regions. Perhaps this is an investment for you, and once someone else has created images on their region, you might be able to resell your license for much more than your initial costs. Then a more challenging region would be better for you since the licensing cost would be less.
If you are serious about imaging on the moon, bid on a premium region. It will be well worth the extra cost in the long run.