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An Organism Based Upon Arsenic Not Phosphorus!
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: NASA researchers exploring extremophile bacteria in Mono Lake, California claimed to have discovered a new strain of bacterium GFAJ-1 in the Gammaproteobacteria group, which not only feeds on the poisonous element arsenic, but incorporates this element in its DNA as a replacement for normal phosphorus


Asteroid Eros
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Asteroids
Mission: NEAR Shoemaker (Asteroids)

Short Description: Mathematics problems based on images of the asteroid Eros. Problems include finding different measurements.


Close Encounters of the Asteroid Kind!
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Asteroids
Mission: DSN (Our Solar System)

Short Description: The Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., discovered two small asteroids on the morning of Sunday, September 5, 2010 during a routine monitoring of the skies.


Is There Ice on Mercury?
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Mercury
Mission: MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: Since the 1990's, radio astronomers have mapped Mercury. An outstanding curiosity is that in the polar regions, some craters appear to have "anomalous reflectivity" in the shadowed areas of these craters. One interpretation is that this is caused by sub-surface ice


Lakes of Methane on Titan
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Titan
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Huygens (Saturn)

Short Description: Mathematics problems based on images of lakes of Methane on Saturn's giant moon Titan. Problems include finding scale, surface area and volume.


LRO Makes a Temperature Map of the Lunar South Pole
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth's Moon
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon)

Short Description: Students use the published LRO temperature map to study the scale of the south polar region, the sizes of its craters and estimate the volume of water-ice that may be present in Shackleton Crater.


Meteorite Compositions: A matter of density
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Most people have heard about meteorites, and have seen meteors streaking across the night sky. These 'rocks' travel through space at thousands of kilometers per hour and can strike any other object in their way.


Planet Kepler-10b: A Matter of Gravity
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use the measured properties of the Earth-like planet Kepler 10b such as its size and density, and by solving Newton's formula for gravity, they determine the weight of a 100 kilogram human standing on the planet's surface.


The Earth-like Planet Gliese 518g
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System), Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System), Webb Space Telescope (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use data for the Gliese 581 planetary system to draw a scaled model of the locations and sizes of the discovered planets. They also identify the location and span of the Habitable Zone for this planetary system.


The Goldilocks Planets -- Not Too Hot or Cold
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: Heliophysics (Sun), Spitzer (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Once you have discovered a planet, you need to figure out whether liquid water might be present. In our solar system, Mercury and Venus are so close to the sun that water cannot remain in liquid form. It vaporizes! For planets beyond Mars, the sun is so far away that water will turn to ice. Only in what astronomers call the Habitable Zone will a planet have a chance for being at the right temperature for liquid water to exist in large quantities on its surface!

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Last Updated: 21 Oct 2011