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A public invitation to visit the moon

Virtually, that is. A program announced Tuesday aims to crowdsource lunar research by letting the public examine high-res images of the moon.

Lunar enthusiasts can now help NASA scientists examine the surface of the moon through a new project called Moon Zoo, which essentially crowdsources lunar research. Moon Zoo

NASA's plans to visit the moon may be shelved for the time being, but that doesn't mean that you can't take a trip to the lunar surface. And you won't even need to get fitted for a space suit.

NASA and the Citizen Science Alliance on Tuesday announced Moon Zoo, a project to essentially crowdsource the examination of a large set of high-resolution images of the moon in a bid to answer some of the most burning scientific questions about the big rock orbiting us every 27.3 days.

Moon Zoo users will view new images taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) and search for clues to the history of both the moon and our solar system. The tasks range in complexity, but some are as simple as counting craters, said the Citizen Science Alliance in a release. If scientists can get an accurate count of the craters of the moon, they might be able to determine the age and depth of the lunar surface. And getting a sense of the "impact bombardment history" of the moon will help scientists determine some of the risks the Earth and the moon alike face from meteors and other space junk.

The Citizens Science Alliance had previously launched a project known as Galaxy Zoo, which got a quarter of a million people involved in doing astronomical research.