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Mapping the Moon!
Topographic map of Mars

The first of four web seminars on the topic of Lunar Exploration was held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Dr. Anuradha Koratkar, Associate Research Scientist at the University of Maryland Baltimore County's Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology (GEST) Center. The presentation focused on mapping the Moon and how NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission will create a new topographic map of the Moon.

Fifty-six (56) participants were present in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. One participant joined the presentation from Canada.

Simulated activity to generate a topographic map

In this presentation educators had the opportunity to learn about the work NASA engineers and scientists do to create a topographic map of the Moon. Dr. Koratkar described how the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft will use the Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technique to obtain accurate surface elevation measurements of lunar features and produce a topographic map. This work is of great importance as NASA prepares for astronauts to return to the Moon in the next decade. During the program, participants did a simulation using sound pulses to collect information to generate a topographic map of an unknown region. Dr. Koratkar also talked about the factors needed for humans to develop a habitat on the Moon. All participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide on NASA Exploration: The Moon, Mars & Beyond, grades 5-8.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
  • "I'm very interested in the geography of other worlds, and how we are able to determine that from orbiting satellites."
  • "It was very interesting to learn how radiation is used to map the surface of things such as the moon. I teach about the electromagnetic spectrum in my classes, and now I have even more to teach my students."
  • "I teach many sciences- Earth, Life, Physics and Philosophy of Science. I have a parent trying to get me to take some GIS courses. The information that I learned tonight has prompted me to enroll."
  • "I teach science in my special education classroom so the content was valuable as I can take much of the information and adapt it to the needs of my students. I learned a lot more than I knew before we started this evening."

Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!


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Underwritten in part by NASA