Futuristic Shackelton Crater Lunar Colony for the NASA "We Choose Space " fulldome planetarium show


The closing sequence for the NASA funded fulldome show "We Choose Space" demanded a dramatic animation depicting a futuristic vision of a lunar colony. Initially thought to be a simple revise to a colony sequence created for the show "Earth's Wild Ride" six years ago, the demand for more realism and the desire to take advantage of new lunar terrain data turned a quick schedule into an eight month long challenge. Also, the decision to use an old Walter Cronkite narration further complicated the task since his narrative spoke of future olympic events in the low-G environment.

The original sequence used old hi-rez Apollo images shot on a large format film camera, but this time that would not be sufficient to convince today's more demanding audiences. So recent LOLA data from NASA's Lunar Orbiter was used to generate realistic terrain. LOLA is elevation data in hi-rez format that can be used to render very accurate views of the Moon's surface.

The terrain data allowed the animators to create views of specific locations as our futuristic shuttle drops from Lunar orbit and heads for the colony. On the way passing over radio telescopes, manufacturing facilities...

... and solar panel towers used to generate electricity as it heads for the Moon's south pole... the proposed location for a possible permanent base because of the evidence of frozen ice there and because the higher areas at that location are always in sunlight so temperatures are more constant and the Sun can be used to generate power all year long.

We selected a site on the rim of the Shackelton Crater because it is a NASA reviewed location and would allow us to do a dramatic fly-over to wow the audience as our shuttle heads for a landing. Obviously we needed to take a peek inside once the shuttle landed and this became a huge technical task because of the complexity of the interior colony. Living and working structures for the colonists, farming areas for food production, a small forest to create an oxygen-rich environment and of course, an olympic stadium to illustrate the Walter Cronkite narration.

The narration also spoke of the potential for man-powered flight in the low gravity along with a 120 foot pole vaault and the potential for dramatic gymnastic feats. The sequence was created as part of the NASA funded Future Space project in cooperation with the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Louisiana Art & Science Musseum.


"We Choose Space" is expected to premier in November, 2011. The complete sequence can be viewed as a Quicktime movie by clicking on the link below.

Click here for Quicktime movie of ShackeltonCrater Lunar Colony sequence

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