ISTAT Banner

Moons, Comets, Meteoroids, and Asteroids

Each activity or resource is labeled by access mode:

Requires computer access
Requires downloading from the Web
$$ Order materials and supplies
Main Topics & Concepts
  • Different types of minor bodies are all solar satellites
  • Origins and evolution of moons, comets, and asteroids
  • Impact of meteorites on moons and planets
This topic applies to California state standard 1f in 9th grade Earth Science. 

Science Probe Text
Science Probe I 13.3 Other Objects in the Solar System

Activity Access Description
S P I:
Activity 13F

Exploring the Planetary Moons
book Students study about the moons of different planets and the space probes that investigated them. By comparing shape, size and surface structure, they learn why scientists are interested in them.
S P I:
Activity 13G

Exploring Smaller Objects in the Solar System
book Students record what they learn about asteroids, meteors, meteorites and comets with opportunity to extend their research through books, periodicals and the Internet.

Activities & Lessons
Activity Access Description

Ball State University, IN

webpaper Meteorite impact sites on the Earth and on other celestial bodies give us the opportunity to learn more about our solar system. We can compile data on the rate and size of these impacts through time. We can then look for comparative trends between our earth and neighboring celestial spheres.  From Messages from Outer Space Online  




web A complete study of comets from their origins to comet anatomy, orbits, meteors, and current comets under observation. Includes complete instructions on making comets in the classroom, interactive comet composition game, and "Killer Comets?" which asks students to decide whether they are convinced by evidence for the Alvarez theory of Large Body Impact.

C-16 Tracking Jupiter's Moons

nix from planets page

More Universe at Your Fingertips ASP* 

book Students will look at nine nights of observations and construct a data graph that allows them to calculate the orbital periods of Jupiter's large moons for themselves. 

C-17 Saturn's Moons

More Universe at Your Fingertips ASP* 

book  Students first explore what they know about the Earth's moon and how we study it. They then play with and organize a set of "Moon Cards" for Saturn's satellites, sorting by different characteristics and looking for relationships.

E-6. Searching for Meteorites

More Universe
at Your Fingertips ASP* 

book  Students simulate meteorite impacts using water balloons filled with flour and colored pebbles. They look at the ejection patterns and try to recover all materials, making a log of their results. Clear ground rules of behavior are necessary!

E-7. Crater Hunters

More Universe at Your Fingertips  ASP* 

book  Students look at images of more cratered worlds, then locate a number of impact craters on world maps. In the second part, they search for other possible impact craters and develop a plan for verifying whether a structure is an impact crater.

E-8. Direct Hit At The K-T Boundary


More Universe at Your Fingertips

book Students assess a list of possible crater sites as candidates for the K-T impact.  They do some simple simulations of impacts in the ocean and on land using everyday materials, and see what effect smoke or soot will have on atmospheric temperature.

Virtual Field Trip to an Impact Crater

Auburn U. Geology

web The Wetumpka Impact Structure is believed by some to be a meteorite impact crater. What features of the structure lead us to believe a meteor collided with the Earth millions of years ago in the vicinity of what is now Wetumpka, Alabama? Embark on our "Virtual Field Trip" to find out! This page also gives a good general introduction to impact craters.  

Meteors and Craters

web A group activity that introduces the definitions of meteor, meteoroid, and meteorite. Students investigate the formation of craters and the size effects of the meteorite's angle and speed of impact.

*Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Ordering info $$

**Science Education Gateway

***Center for Science Education at Space Science Laboratory, UC Berkeley

Resources Access Description

Exploring the Planets


web This on-line gallery at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has information, images, and histories of planetary exploration in a student-friendly site.

Welcome to the Planets


web NASA's Planetary Science Institute site for education, with pages on planets, explorer satellites, and a wealth of the best images. Supplies links to NASA data archives as well.

The Nine Planets

SEDS/Bill Arnett

web One of the first and best, this site at Arizona University's Lunar and Planetary Institute is co-sponsored by Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

Views of the Solar System

Calvin J. Hamilton

web Has statistics, animations, and views of the planets, including interiors of the Earth.
Useful for students and teachers. Has a number of activities, including icosahedron maps of several planets. Makes extensive use of images, which may be slow in loading.  Scroll down to get advertising banners off the page.

Hawaiian Astronomical Society

web Site with news of recent events, and general information on the major meteor showers.

Bill Bottke 

web Discusses crater chains on the Earth and the Moon. Includes photos of the Aorounga, Chad site and several lunar sites.


webpaper Article. An extraterrestrial impact 65 million years ago changed the course of life on Earth. The crater it carved in the Earth's surface could now help scientists study past global change.