Cutting Edge > Topics > Discoveries from Mars > Activities and Assignments > Comparative Planetary Geomorphology

Comparative Planetary Geomorphology

Jennifer L. B. Anderson
Winona State University
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

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This page first made public: May 10, 2006


This is a laboratory exercise to introduce comparative planetary geomorphology by investigating common geologic features on the Earth, Moon, and Mars.

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This exercise is designed for an advanced geomorphology course for upper-level students who have no prior experience in planetary science.

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Description of the activity/assignment

Prior to this lab exercise, students discuss general physical differences between the planets Earth, Moon and Mars, and why these physical differences exist. They use globes and global data sets in lecture to investigate large-scale patters, similarities and differences between these bodies. They discuss methods by which planetary geologists study the surfaces of other planets. While working on this laboratory exercise, they use maps of the Earth, Moon and Mars (both geologic and topographic) as well as data from missions such as Clementine, MOLA, and HRSC, which they obtain online. The investigate impact crater morphology between the Earth and Moon; comparative planetary geology in the form of fluvial, tectonic, and volcanologic comparisons of Earth and Mars; and complete a geologic map and history of a region of Mars using only orbital images and data sets.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Primarily, I look to the clarity of their finished geologic map and cross-sections as well as their descriptions and applications of geologic reasoning to other planets.

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