Exploring the Landing
Sites of Apollo, Ranger, and Surveyor
Grade: 7 through adult
Object: To identify the landing sites for these various
spacecraft, and to examine the type of moon forms found at each site.
Methods: Use one of the many available resources available to identify the sites of the landings, and examine earth based photographs of each. One suggested resources is Antonio Cidadao's home page, as it has both of these readily available (URL available in the Lunar Links page of this website; also some of the photographs in the Photo Gallery of this webpage image landing sites). Then, also, examine each site in your own telescope.
At this point, the student should postulate what kind of findings he/she would expect to find at the landing site. Try to reason from your understanding of earth what the various formations at each site represent. For example, do they suggest old river beds, lake bottoms, lava flows, folded mountains, etc. How do you rule some of these in, and rule out others?
Finally, examine the local views from of the site from the spacecraft (try: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/lunarindex.html). Now compare your findings with those of the spacecraft. Were you right? What pieces of the puzzle were you overlooking? What do these findings suggest about the history of the moon?
Teacher Instruction: This project is intended to teach reasoning skills by using analogy and free association. You might have some books of earth's geology and formations available for the students to pour over before jumping to the actual photographs from the spacecraft. And remember, this was all earth scientists had prior to the missions.