Craters, Maria, and Highlands: The Moon's Surface Features (page 2)
Try New Approaches
- How does the size of the meteoroid affect the size of the crater? Investigate by using a larger, heavier rock. Science Fair Hint: Display two bowls with the crater models and the two rocks representing falling objects. For more information about Moon craters, see Heather Couper, How the Universe Works (pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest, 1994), pp. 48–51.
- How does the speed of a meteoroid affect the size of the crater? Investigate by comparing the crater formed when a rock is dropped to one formed when the rock is thrown at greater speed. (perform this experiment outdoors as there may be splattering of materials.)
- What effect does the angle of impact have on craters? Repeat the original experiment, throwing the rock straight down, then at various angles. Compare the characteristics of the resulting craters. (Again, this experiment should be performed outdoors.)
Design Your Own Experiment
- The Moon has light and dark areas. The maria, or dark spots, on the Moon are the lowlands that cover about 20% of its surface. Maria have a lower elevation—by about 2 miles (3.2 km)—than the rest of the surface. The lighter areas, called highlands, are regions of higher than average elevation. The highlands are the older, cratered region of the Moon's surface. Highlands cover more than 70% of the surface. Find a way to map the Moon. Use binoculars or a telescope to study its surface. Make a scale drawing on graph paper of the features you see (see Figure 20.2). Provide a table like Table 20.1, identifying the features and their coordinates.
- Watch the Moon for a month to determine which phase gives you the best view of the Moon's features. Draw maps of the different phases for comparison, including the terminator (the dividing line between the illuminated and unilluminated areas).
For the names of the Moon's features, see Richard Moeschl, Exploring the Sky (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1993), pp. 253–255. Another source is Dinah Moche, Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide (New York: Wiley, 1996), appendix.
Get the Facts
- The types of rocks that make up maria and highlands cause these surface features' different colors. What rock types make up these features? For information, see Moche, Astronomy, p. 264.
- Galileo made the first sketches of the Moon in 1609. Find out how these scientists improved on Galileo's maps: Johannes Hevelius, John William Draper, G. B. Riccioli, and H. H. Schroeter. For information, see Moeschl, Exploring the Sky, p. 253.
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.