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SPST632 - Lunar Geology

Course Details

Course Code: SPST632 Course ID: 3933 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course examines the Moon in a systematic way, including the current theory of the origin of the Moon and processes such as impact cratering, volcanism, and tectonics. A detailed review of past manned/unmanned lunar geological exploration findings will also be addressed, along with critical aspects of lunar geology relevant to the return of humankind to the Moon.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
11/26/18 - 05/03/19 05/06/19 - 06/30/19 Spring 2019 Session I 8 Week session
02/25/19 - 08/02/19 08/05/19 - 09/29/19 Summer 2019 Session I 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Discuss some basic physical properties of the Moon (size, orbit, phases, eclipses etc.).
  • Describe the events that led to the origin of the Moon.
  • Express NASA’s strategy for lunar exploration.
  • Explain the effects of impact cratering on the lunar surface.
  • Describe evidence of volcanism and tectonism on the Moon.
  • Review the techniques used for creating geological maps of the Moon.
  • Discuss the details and geologic contributions of the Apollo missions.
  • Develop a geologic history for the Moon.
  • Tell why the exploration of the Moon is important to humanity as a space-faring civilization.

Your final grade will consist of an average of the following items:

Forum Participation: Eight times throughout this course discussion items will be posted within the Forum area of the classroom. Your responses must be between 100-300 words, be in YOUR OWN WORDS, well written and grammatically correct. Sources used must be cited at the end of your posting (not included in the word count). Your responses will clearly show whether you have completed assigned classroom readings. Opinions are always welcome… However, postings providing only opinions will be graded accordingly! Be sure to read the directions associated with each posting.

Weekly Quizzes: Quizzes are designed to review assigned reading or video assignments. Quizzes are to be taken online, and you will get two attempts at each quiz to help you master the material. The highest score of the two attempts is the one that is kept. Quizzes must be taken during specific dates. Although open book, students are not to give or receive help on the weekly quizzes.

Homework Assignments: There are eight homework assignments for this course, each covering various aspects of assigned course readings. Information on homework assignments will be posted within the Assignments area of the classroom, on the days listed in the Announcements (home) page.

Final Exam: The final exam is comprehensive in scope and is based on readings from your textbook over the eight week session. The best way to prepare for the final exam is to review the weekly quizzes.

NameGrade %
Quizzes 24.00 %
Week 8 Quiz 3.00 %
Week 7 Quiz - "Whence the Moon?" 3.00 %
Week 6 Quiz - "A Fall of Moon Dust" 3.00 %
Week 5 Quiz - "The Maria" 3.00 %
Week 4 Quiz - "The Terrae" 3.00 %
Week 3 Quiz - "The World of the Moon" 3.00 %
Week 2 Quiz - Exploration of the Moon 3.00 %
Week 1 Quiz - Introduction to the Moon 3.00 %
Homework 52.00 %
Homework - Week 1 6.50 %
Homework - Week 2 6.50 %
Homework - Week 3 6.50 %
Homework - Week 4 6.50 %
Homework - Week 5 6.50 %
Homework - Week 6 6.50 %
Homework - Week 7 (1) 6.50 %
Homework - Week 8 6.50 %
Forums 24.00 %
Forum 1 3.00 %
Forum 2 3.00 %
Forum 3 3.00 %
Forum 4 3.00 %
Forum 5 3.00 %
Forum 6 3.00 %
Forum 7 3.00 %
Forum 8 3.00 %

Course Textbooks:

Spudis, “Once and Future Moon,” MBS Reprint # 949063 (Good prices on too)

Wilhelms (a), “Geologic History of the Moon” (Online, No Purchase Required)

Wilhelms (b), “To a Rocky Moon: A Geologist's History of Lunar Exploration” (Online, No Purchase Required)

Additional Reading:

Announcements, forums, online lessons, and selected journal articles


In addition to the required course texts, the following public domain websites are useful. Please abide by the university’s academic honesty policy when using Internet sources as well. Note Web site addresses are subject to change.

Site Name

Website URL/Address

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Lunar Map Catalog

Apollo Lunar Surface Journal

Lunar Photo of the Day

Other Resources:

As provided

Book Title:The Once and Future Moon
Publication Info:LAD
Author:Paul D. Spudis
Unit Cost:$41.93
Book Title:To a Rocky Moon: A Geologist's History of Lunar Exploration (available online-
Book Title:Geologic History of the Moon (available online-
Book Title:The Value of the Moon: How to Explore, Live, and Prosper in Space Using the Moon's Resources
Publication Info:Smithsonian Books
Author:Paul D. Spudis
Unit Cost:$29.35

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.