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Planetary Topography

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Earth and Space Sciences +4 Age Level Middle School (13 to 15 years old)

Students get an introduction to the concept of topography and how topographic data are displayed with graduated colors. Students practice visualizing and translating map-view data into side-view topographic profiles of various features. Then, with this background, students examine real topographic data from four planetary bodies in the solar system and interpret this data to answer questions about each planetary body. 

Students will:
  • Understand that topography is a 2D representation of a 3D feature, the elevation of a surface.
  • Read and analyze topography data to find what’s high and low in elevation.
  • Visualize the shape of a land form or feature based on its topography.
  • Interpret real planetary topography data to answer questions.
  • Explain how topography data is useful, both on Earth and other planets.

Keywords: #airandspace, National Air and Space Museum, NASM, topography, maps, Mars, Venus, Earth, Moon