Posted by: tpsciencefun | November 18, 2013

Lunar and Earthly Landforms

What do you know about Earth’s crust that you walk on everyday??  Here you go-everything you ever wanted to know about landforms!

How about the Moon, our naturally occurring satellite? Does it have landforms? Check out the definitions for lunar landforms below.

Also, take a good, close look at the Moon with the naked eye, through binoculars or a telescope can set the stage for a fascinating exploration of our nearest neighbor in space. Bright areas and streaks, dark areas, and circular features can be discerned easily. Photographs taken from lunar orbit give us even closer looks at the Moon’s surface. The fun part is knowing what you’re looking at and that’s what this activity is all about.

Here’s some good lunar landforms vocabulary:

  • Highlands – bright, extensively cratered areas of igneous rocks rich in the mineral plagioclase and breccias (rocks actually made of broken pieces of many rocks smashed back together again).
  • Maria – dark areas covered by lavas of the volcanic rock type called basalt.
  • Impact crater – roughly circular hole created when something struck the surface.
  • Terraced crater walls – steep walls of an impact crater with stair steps created by slumping due to gravity and landslides.
  • Central crater uplift – mountain in the center of large (>40 kilometer diameter) impact craters.
  • Crater ejecta – material thrown out from and deposited around an impact crater.
  • Ray – bright streak of material blasted out from an impact crater.
  • Multi-ringed basin – huge impact crater surrounded by circular mountain chains.
  • Lava flow – a break out of magma from underground onto the surface.
  • Rille – channel in lunar maria formed as an open lava channel aor a collapsed lava tube.
  • Wrinkle ridge – long, narrow, wrinkly, hilly section in maria.
  • Cinder Cone – low, broad, dark, cone-shaped hill formed by explosive volcanic eruption.
  • Dome – low, circular, rounded hill suspected to be a volcanic landform.

From: Hawai’i Space Grant Consortium, Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai’i,



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