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Exploring the Geology of Mars using Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter Data
This guide introduces teachers to the use of Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter (MOLA) data in the classroom. MOLA data is used to create global topographic maps of Mars and to provide information about properties such as surface roughness, elevation, cloud coverage, brightness, and water flow. This dataset consists of two years of altimetry data on Martian surface features; it can be used to teach Martian topography; laser altimetry methods; seasonal changes in snow cover; structural evidence of water flow; and cloud coverage of Mars. Students will learn to interpret topographic maps; use tools to generate and manipulate topographic maps; understand laser altimetry; and understand how elevation and shape information is derived from laser altimetry data. Links are provided to software tools for manipulating MOLA data files, and to scientific and educational resources that use this dataset. There are also links to online resources with related information.
Intended for grade levels:
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Classroom activity
    • Computer activity
    • Guide for instructor
  • Educational theory and practice
  • Geographical Sciences:
    • Physical geography
  • Space science
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
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DLESE Catalog ID: DATA-CLASS-000-000-000-013
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: Carleton College
Science Education Resource Center (SERC)