Hawai'i Space Grant Consortium, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, 1998

Lunar Landforms Teacher Page

To identify landforms on the surface of the Moon using orbital, Apollo spacecraft photographs.


Taking 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.

Students will need to know the following vocabulary of landforms on the Moon:

An easy-to-understand background article "The Moon: Gateway to the Solar System," written by Dr. G. Jeffrey Taylor, is available in NASA publication EG-1997-10-116-HQ. Find it on-line at the NASA Educational Materials site or the Lunar Prospector mission education homepage or from Johnson Space Center site. An accompanying slide set (Publication ES-1997-12-002-HQ) is also available through NASA Teacher Resource Centers. Use these resources and other books and pictures to show your students what's on the Moon.

Additional on-line resources for lunar images and Moon mission information:

Moon missions and imagery from the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, Texas.

Apollo manned space program imagery and information from the National Air and Space Museum.

This Activity

This activity uses eight photographs taken by Apollo mission orbital cameras to show thirteen major landforms on the surface of the Moon (defined above.) Students match the numbers on the photographs (1 through 20) with the name of the landform. A "Lunar Landform Identification" student chart is provided to record answers.


Print out copies of the lunar photographs for this activity.
Make copies of the blank "Lunar Landform Identification" student chart.
Print out copies of the answer chart.

In Class

This activity can be used as a group or individual culminating experience for students who have been studying the Moon. The vocabulary words can be given as a separate assignment before the landform identification.


Compare student charts with the answer chart and discuss any discrepancies. Were some landforms easier to identify than others? Did shadows (sun angle) help make some features easier to see? Which landforms would you like to stand on?


Using the label on each photograph, locate the areas on a globe or map of the Moon.
Determine the latitude and longitude of the area in each photograph.
Use maps of the Moon to determine the size of the landforms.
Find the same landforms in photographs from the Apollo landing sites.
Research and discuss Moon missions past, present, and future.
Use the knowledge gained from this activity in the Lunar Life Support activity.

Go to Lunar photographs for this activity.

Go to Lunar Landforms Student Chart.

Go to Lunar Landforms Answer Chart.

Return to The Moon Activity Index.

Return to Hands-On Activities home page.