Why is the moon covered in craters?
It’s World Space Week 2020 and this week we have been exploring the planets, the scale of our solar system, why the moon has craters and how rockets need Thrust to launch into space.
Our Solar System is located in a galaxy known as the Milky Way, it includes the sun, stars, planets, moons, meteors- everything that orbits the sun. It was formed 4.6 billion years ago. The sun is the centre of our Solar System, it’s a star, a giant ball of burning gas that sends heat and light out. It’s so enormous we could fit 1.5 million Earth’s inside it. Did you know it is just one of over 200 billion stars in the milky way? Space is truly gigantic!
Our Solar System has 8 planets, all of these travel or orbit around the sun, they are held in orbit by Gravity. Scientists have explored our Solar System through telescopes, robots (probes) and sending astronauts into space. The planets orbit around the sun, and are is split into 2 groups, the inner rocky planets and the outer gas giants.
The inner rocky planets have solid surfaces so technically you can stand on them but the atmosphere of all but Earth would be toxic- you wouldn’t be able to breathe! Beyond Mars is the asteroid belt, and then the gas giants- these planets form the outer solar system and are formed of gas, ice and liquid.
The moon is Earth’s only natural satellite, it’s made from rock and has no atmosphere which means that any meteors or asteroids that are on a collision course with the moon will create an impact crater. The surface of the moon is covered in craters, caused by the impact of thousands of asteroids over the years. The size of the craters left behind after these collisions depends upon the speed of impact as well as the size and mass of the asteroid that has hit. In this activity we explore how craters of different sizes and shapes are formed depending upon the height and trajectory of impact.
You will need:
- Cocoa Powder
- Rocks/ marbles of different sizes
- Fill the tray with flour (this is the moon rock), then using a sieve cover the top with a light layer of hot chocolate powder (this is the moons soily surface)
- Drop a rock from a standing position into the flour…you have made a moon crater!
- How big and deep is the crater you have made?
- Drop the same rock from different heights, both closer and further away. What happens to the size of the crater?
- Drop different sized rocks or marbles from the same height. What happens to the size of the crater?
- What happens to the size of the crater if the rock is gently thrown at an angle towards to moon’s surface?