Scientists believe that many of the craters on the moon were formed by the impact of meteorites.  Rock particles resulting from the impact often settle to the surface in rays that spread out from the crater.  The size and appearance of a crater formed by a meteorite generally depend on two factors, the size of the meteorite and its speed.


            To predict the effect of an object’s mass on the formation and appearance of a crater.


            The greater the mass of an object, the larger the crater it will form.


            Sand or flour

            Yard stick


            3 objects of varying sizes

            Shoe box


  1. Half fill the shoe box with sand or flour.  Smooth the surface with the ruler. Drop the box lightly on the table a few times from about a half inch above the table to pack down the sand or flour.
  2. Hold the yard stick so it is positioned vertically next to the shoe box with the zero end resting on the table.
  3. Using the yard stick as a guide, raise the smallest object to a height of 15 inches and drop it into the shoe box containing the sand/flour.
  4. Measure the depth of the crater and its diameter with the ruler.  Record your observations in the data table given.
  5. Repeat the experiment with this same object 2 more times.
  6. Repeat the entire experiment with a second, different object and record your results.
  7. Repeat the entire experiment with a third, different object and record your results.

LAB TOPIC: Moon Crater Formation

Fill in the table with your results. These will be your observations.



Data Table

  Trial    Object  Depth of crater  Diameter of crater
  1 of object 1     
  2 of object 1     
  3 of object 1     
  1 of object 2     
  2 of object 2     
  3 of object 2     
  1 of object 3     
  2 of object 3     
  3 of object 3     

LAB TOPIC: Moon Crater Formation

Answer the following questions in a paragraph form.


Compareand contrast the depth of the craters formed by the 3 different objects.

Compare and contrast the diameters formed by the 3 different objects.

Explain why you think you had these results. How do size and weight affect the results?

What are “rays” of a crater? (Define what rays are in this context.) Which object caused the most noticeable “rays” extending from the craters formed in your lab? Why do you suppose this happened?

How do scientists use their observations to estimate the size of the objects that caused the various craters on the moon? Have there been any noticeable changes in the moon’s craters since we started our observations of the moon? Why or why not?

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