Frequently Asked Questions

How should I cite Lunaserv in my published works?

Acknowledging Lunaserv and its resources in your papers helps ensure the continuing support necessary to maintain, develop, and improve Lunaserv, including the addition of new datasets.

For news media or educational purposes, please credit images created through Lunaserv as: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

If you use Lunaserv in a research work, please mention it in any relevant captions and put the following in your references: Estes, N.M.; Hanger, C.D.; Licht, A.A.; Bowman-Cisneros, E.; Lunaserv Web Map Service: History, Implementation Details, Development, and Uses,

The Lunaserv web site is governed by the Arizona State University Privacy Policy, available at

Why is it called Lunaserv when it supports multiple planetary bodies?

Lunaserv was developed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) project at Arizona State University to support the work of the LROC team. The initial version supported only orthographic projections and only for the Moon. Through subsequent enhancements, it was determined that supporting other planetary bodies required minimal effort beyond the LROC SOC's needs, so the current version does much more than just support the Moon. By this time, we had been calling it "Lunaserv" for at least a couple of years, and the name stuck.

At the LROC SOC, we use Lunaserv to study the Moon but its design follows the WMS specification well enough that, as it turns out, pretty much any raster base map, and any accompanying layers, for any planetary body, including Earth, can be loaded into the database and will work just fine with Lunaserv.

Why didn't you use existing WMS software instead of building your own?

We tried!

At the LROC SOC we experimented with other software products but ran into various problems. Most software of this nature is used to explore Earth and assumptions are made about spheroids, distances and other non-trivial issues that can change in the context of planetary science. The WMS specification also only includes Earth-based spatial reference systems (SRS), and while many WMS servers allow for specifying additional SRS definitions, the ease and utility of those varies widely. The LROC SOC also ran into issues when rendering data at global scales. Often shapes and features at projection edges (ie, poles) get rendered incorrectly. We even ran into cases where the way in which features were rendered over a pole changed drastically depending on map scale.

Lunaserv was designed to solve these problems. Lunaserv renders images at or near the poles just as accurately as it renders images from any other location, and it does so at every zoom level and with every projection we've tested. As with any software, there may still be bugs, so if you find a rendering issue, let us know.

Why don't you charge for this software?

LROC is funded by NASA which means the project is funded by taxpayer money. Being funded by taxpayer money has important implications. The things we create can either stay with the project or they can be made available for use outside our organization through some sort of licensing arrangement. We put a lot of work into Lunaserv, so we thought licensing it as Open Source Software was way more fun than keeping it to ourselves. The LROC SOC also benefits from the use of Open Source Software, so we appreciate the opportunity to contribute something back to the Open Source community.

Have you tested Lunaserv on my server software?

We're in the business of developing software to support the selfish needs of our project. In the course of doing this we ended up creating a product that we think could be very useful for a lot of people and organizations. Especially other planetary science teams. Because we're big fans of Open Source Software, we felt that it was important to make something as useful as this available to everyone who wanted it.

We're not, however, in the business of distributing and supporting software. We know Lunaserv works on our servers but we haven't tested it on anything else because we don't have other types of servers available to us and, even if we did, we don't have the time. If your server is Linux based, there's a reasonable chance it will work OK, possibly with a little tweaking. On other systems, it's hard to say. Feel free to download Lunaserv and give it a try!

The systems Lunaserv is known to work on include Ubuntu Linux, CentOS Linux, and OS X (Snow Leopard & Lion); we've even gotten it to run on a Raspberry Pi. If you are sucessful in getting Lunaserv to work on other platforms, we would like to hear about your success. If any special tweaks or patches were required, send those along too and we'll try to include it in a future release.

How can I contribute?

If you find a bug you'd like to fix or a feature you'd like to add, feel free to do it and send us a patch via the Lunaserv Google Group. Lunaserv is Open Source Software not only to share our work with the community, but also to allow the community to share changes back. If you would like to help but aren't a developer, we would also appreciate contributions to documentation or anything else related to Lunaserv. Let's work together to make Lunaserv a useful tool for everyone to use.