Remote Sensing Beta Test – Science Activity 2: Landing Site Topography

Remote Sensing: Activity – Science S2 card front

Activity Timing

20 min. Introduction
15 min. Investigate
10 min. Understand LiDAR Data
15 min. Analyze Landing Sites
10 min. Reflect

70 min. Total

Prep Snapshot

Prep Time: 10 min 

Print resources for the Activity. 

S2 Educator Guide

S2 Topography Template

S2 Data Packet

S2 Science Notebook

This snapshot intended for quick reminders and is not a replacement of the guide. Be sure to use the guide for detailed preparation instructions and implementation scripts.


Topographic map: a representation of the shape of land in an area 

Topography: the shape of land in an area 

Remote Sensing Science Vocab List

21st Century Skills Connection

Critical Thinking

Science Practices

  • Analyzing & Interpreting Data 
  • Planning Investigations 

Activity Overview

Youth interpret topographic maps created by LiDAR technologies and then use the maps to understand the landforms and to identify safe and interesting landing sites. 

Guiding Question

How can topographic maps help us choose a safe and interesting landing site on Mars? 

Youth Will Do

  • Youth will interpret data from topographic maps to identify safe locations to land and landforms that might indicate water was present on Mars. 

Youth Will Know

  • A topographic map represents the shape of land in an area. 
  • NASA uses LiDAR to make topographic maps of Mars. 

Videos Related to this Activity

Family Connections Story Prompt

Can you tell me a story about our landscape / the land on which we live?

Additional Resources

Connecting Across Activities

  • In Science Activity 1, youth learned about landforms on Earth and Mars.
  • In this Activity, youth deepen their understanding of landforms by examining topography data.
  • Next, in Science Activity 3, they will interpret mineral data collected by spectroscopy.