MoonWorld – Virtual World for Inquiry and Planetary Geology Field Work

MoonWorld in Second Life – – is a space themed virtual field trip style game encouraging the study of rocks and geology. It provides a lunar simulation in a 3D virtual environment and was funded by NASA. The instructional goals include using evidence gathering and analysis to understand how impact craters form and how their spatial relations with other landforms permit development of a stratigraphy and history. This educational and training project is conceptualized by the Center for Educational Technologies and developed by Avatrian.

Video footage from MoonWorld

MoonWorld Missions

The MoonWorld region in Second Life can be accessed by setting up a mission on the Calendar at the Web Portal at

A team name, team leader avatar name and a team code are chosen. This then provides a URL to which extra team members can be added. Up to 4 members make up a surface team. Also provided is the URL to go to the mission prep area when its time for your mission.

The web portal also provides access to a teleport URL to go to the MoonWorld prep area when its time for your mission, search to find a team leader or member (by avatar name) or team name.

Getting Ready for Your Mission

Your team leader will be able to assist you, but if you want to read up a liottle on your mission and the equipme nt you will use, see this MoonWorld Guide to Starting a Mission (PDF Format).

MoonWorld in Second Life and OpenSim uses special themes to simulate the lunar environment. The themes create a black sky with stars, sun, earth, and other celestial bodies, as well as, removing the waves that lap around our island. For details for PC and Mac users see:

Welcome on board! There are few quick things which Moon explorers can do to set up…

  1. Get the latest SL viewer (3.2.5 as at January 2012) and give it a run as the interface may be quite different if you have not used it for a while.
  2. If you have not used viewer 2 or 3, go into the outfits window the icon looks like a short) and “save” your outfit. That will help you get back to how you look now.
  3. Install the MoonWorld theme – when SL viewer is NOT running. Its just two .xml files. Instructions for PC and Mac users above.
  4. Then go into the SL viewer and activate those in the environment editor ahead of the mission time.
  5. Make sure you have media set to automatically play (that’s the default).
  6. You might want to check the “Draw Distance” sety in Preferences for the Graphics under the Advanced Tab. Set it to at least 128m and up to 256m to let you see right across the region.
  7. Remember how to snap images in the SL viewer – ctrl ‘ does the job as a keyboard short cut.
  8. To get nice pictures it is useful if you know how to move your camera separate to moving your avatar. Some guidance on this is at

The team leader will register your avatar for the mission, or provide a link and team code to allow you to do that yourself. An e-mail will be sent to you with an access SLURL when the lander becomes available at the very start of the time slot. Then we will take it from there. A mission can last 2 hours. I am not sure we will want to continue right through the mission sample points and lab analysis. But we will go as far as we wish and then return to the lander.

During the mission, it is wise to stay close together as a team and not go ahead to later exploration stations. That way everyone can stay in sync.

Sample Mission

  • Location: Timocharis region on the Moon, which was the landing site for Apollo 17. This was the mission which had the highest level of geological exploration.
  • MoonWorld mission on Tuesday 24-Jan-2012 08:00 PST/SLT (16:00 GMT) is confirmed…
  • Team: Pythagoras
  • Team Captain: Ai Austin (red)
  • Team Explorers: Indri (indrimagri) (blue), Kimberley Pascal (green), KaronMcB (yellow)
  • Team Code: provided when participation confirmed

Our aim will be to understand something of the way the crater we will land near was formed. We will have access to head up displays, videos from mission control, and rock guides as we go along.

During the mission, it is wise to stay close together as a team and not go ahead to later exploration stations. That way everyone can stay in sync.

Useful Links

Post Mission Discussion and NASA Questionnaire

The team leader hopes the experience will generate some observations related to the educational approach and potential of this and similar “games” for serious educational uses. To assist in this it might be useful to look at:

At the end of the mission please complete the MoonWorld project questionnaire for NASA (Teacher of Adult versions) at

Keywords: Space-themed Game

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1 Response to MoonWorld – Virtual World for Inquiry and Planetary Geology Field Work

  1. Beth Pickett says:

    Beth Pickett of HippoCampus.oprg writes on 14-Oct-2012…

    I was checking out and I saw your page titled “Apollo 13: A Challenge Domain for the Planning Community.” Here’s the link in case you don’t remember it:

    A lot of teachers and students aren’t aware of the free teaching resource videos and homework help tutorials that are available online. There is an awesome site called that covers all the subjects — and it’s supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Check out some of our videos on algebra:

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