Quantitative Skills > Teaching Resources > Activities > BotEC: Surface Area of the Moon

Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Surface Area of the Moon vs. Earth

Barbara Tewksbury

Hamilton College
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Summary

Question

If you could wrap the Moon in a gigantic cloth and then unwrap the cloth and spread it out on the Earth, how much of the Earth's surface would it cover?

Assessment

Answer

An area about the size of the continents of Australia and Africa combined. The Moon has a radius of about 1740 km, giving the Moon a surface area of 4

References and Resources

This SERC page describes the use of Back of the Envelope Calculations

A View from the Back of the Envelope (more info) : This site has a good number of easy simulations and visualizations of back of the envelope calculations.

The Back of the Envelope : This page outlines one of the essays in the book "Programming Pearls" (ISBN 0-201-65788-0). The book is written for computer science faculty and students, but this portion speaks very well to back of the envelope calculations in general.

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Geoscience:Lunar and Planetary Science
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity:Short Activity
Special Interest: Quantitative
Quantitative Skills: Geometry and Trigonometry, Estimation
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Topics: Solar system

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