Read over the Background Research link to get familiar with information about impact craters and their characteristics. Once you have done that, look at this initial set of images of impact craters. Images are of craters on Earth (A), Mars (B), Earth’s Moon (C), Mercury (D), Venus (E), and an asteroid named Vesta (F).


Do you think you have enough data to answer the question: What do the characteristics of these craters reveal about the geologic history of these planetary worlds? With one data point…definitely not. However, the information below and on the other pages of this wiki will step you through an investigation to help you answer this question with additional data.

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The information below includes aspects of your research that are important to consider. In the beginning of your research, you may have to explore these aspects before you are able to finalize your overall plan in your Experiment Design. Once you explore the possibilities you will be able to define your Experiment Design which clearly lays out the plan or methods you will use to gather the data for your investigation.
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What do the characteristics of craters reveal about the geologic history of a planetary world?

Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to find images or information related to the feature you are investigating. The information below is a beginning list of where to look:

1. Expedition Earth and Beyond Quick List of Images: (look at the "Impact Features" tab). [Note: The Quick List of Images is a great place to start for any investigation! These images come from the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth website (]

Using the above link will give you experience finding metadata (information) for each image. Chose any impact crater image and make sure you can locate each of the following:
A. Click on the image identification # to open up the image in the Gateway to Astronaut Photograph of Earth page.
B. Useful information on the page....and there is a lot of it, specifically look for (in the order they occur):
  • Image Identification #: This is basically the image name. This is located above the image and usually begins with ISS... (images taken from the ISS) or STS (images taken from the Space Shuttle).
  • "Images to View on Your Computer Now": Click on "View" to see different image options. Some have labeled features on the image that can help you identify features in the image.
  • "Download a Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file for use in Google Earth: This is an awesome feature! Click on this KML link and Google Earth will open up and take you to the approximate location of the image on Earth. (You must have Google Earth downloaded:
  • "Identification": Information about the image include country or geographic name, a list of features included in the image, the latitude and longitude of the image.
  • "Camera": Information about the camera and lens used to acquire the image.
  • "Captions": Some images have captions that provide useful information about the image/feature.

2. Earth Impact Database:
  • This link lists impact structures on earth sorted by name. Click on the structure name to view specific information about the impact crater. You can also sort this list by age or diameter or look for impact craters in different parts of the world.

3. Crater Comparison Images: USE THIS SET OF IMAGES TO BEGIN THIS INVESTIGATION. CHECK OUT THE INFORMATION LISTED IN THE SAMPLE TABLE BELOW. (You will also make observations of images of craters on other planetary worlds as well....but these 3 samples will get you familiar with collecting the listed data.
  • This PowerPoint includes images of 12 impact craters on Earth. Use the Earth Impact Database to find additional information about each crater as necessary.
Craters_Earth Images PowerPoint

Once you know where to find images, you need to consider what specific information to log. For the above research question, we'll log the following information:

1) Image Identification # 2) Crater name 3) Latitude 4) Longitude 5) Planetary Body 6) Geographic location (country or region)
Observations of visible characteristics such as: 7) Crater diameter 8) Crater Type 9) Crater Classification 10) Miscellaneous notes or observations 11) Sketches of craters.
  • This may seem like a lot of information to log, but it provides you with metadata (information) about the image, the crater, and specific observations related to the different parts/characteristics of a crater. It also allows you to create sketches and write in extra notes about the image that don't fit anywhere else.

  • The 11 pieces of data listed above was logged for 3 impact craters on Earth using an excel spreadsheet. Check out the images and logged data provided. Make additions or changes as you see fit. You will collect and compile additional information to add to this data table during this investigation.
Excel spreadsheet of this data table is available below. By using an excel spreadsheet, you can easily sort your data later in the process.

Use what you know about impact craters (and have learned through the Background Research section of this wiki) as well as your initial observations from above to create an initial set of hypotheses. A hypothesis should be based on observations and prior knowledge you may have.

  • List your hypothesis/es to the question: What do the characteristics of craters reveal about the geologic history of a planetary world?
As you list your hypothesis/es you should be able to provide your reasons/justification for each hypothesis.