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Activity Four: Safe Landing on the Lunar Surface

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Illustration of a human landing system and crew on the lunar surface with Earth near the horizon



Grade Levels

Grades 5-8


Physical Science, Space Science, Technology, Forces and Motion, Gravity, Missions to Planets and Moons, Space Vehicles


Lesson Plans / Activities

Students will work in teams to design and build a model of a lunar lander that will use the thrust of balloons to slow its rate of descent. The goal of the challenge is to slow the lander’s rate of descent as much as possible to simulate a soft landing on the lunar surface. Students will drop their landers from a height of 2 meters both with and without the use of propulsion, and they will use stopwatches, slow-motion video, and/or video analysis software to measure the effects of propulsion on their landers’ rates of descent.

Students will:

  • Identify the challenges of landing a lunar lander on the surface of a body without an atmosphere.
  • Design, build, and improve a model of a lunar lander that can slow its descent using the downward thrust of a balloon.
  • Graph speed with respect to elevation of a model lunar lander.

Next Generation Science Standards: MS-PS2-2, MS-PS2-4, MS-ETS1-3

Common Core State Standards: 8.EE.B.5

Activity Four: Safe Landing on the Lunar Surface

This lesson plan is part of the “Landing Humans on the Moon Educator Guide.”