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Solar System Exploration
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SpaceMath: Planet Kepler-10b: A Matter of Gravity
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together, Space Math
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: 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.

SpaceMath: The Transit of Mercury
Topic: Space Math, The Sun, Transits and Eclipses
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Sun, Mercury, Earth
Mission: Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: As seen from Earth, the planet Mercury occasionally passes across the face of the sun; an event that astronomers call a transit. From images taken by the Hinode satellite, students will create a model of the solar disk to the same scale as the image, and calculate the distance to the sun.

Spinning Does More than Make You Dizzy
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System

Short Description: Students investigate why the planets revolve around the Sun in the same direction and connect their formation to their motions in this simple demonstration.

Strange New Planet
Topic: Ancient Astronomers / Modern Tools, Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Mars
Mission: Mariner 04 (Mars), Mariner 06 (Mars), Mariner 07 (Mars), Mariner 09 (Mars), Mars Global Surveyor (Mars), Mars Pathfinder (Mars), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars)

Short Description: This activity demonstrates how planetary features are discovered through a sequence of observations, from naked eye, to telescopic, to fly-by, orbiting, and sample missions. Students make multi-sensory observations, gather data and simulate spacecraft missions.

Structure and Properties of Matter: Ion Propulsion Module
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Asteroids, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: This module is intended to engage students and the interested public in the propulsion technology that is necessary for Dawn to complete its mission. As students interact with this module, they will gain an understanding of charges and relative charge, momentum and frames of reference, ionization and plasma, how an ion propulsion system works, and they will experiment with designing an ion engine to determine optimal conditions.

Summit Up -- Comparing Volcanos on Mars and Earth
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: Summit Up is a 20 minute activity in which children make paper models to scale of the tallest volcanic mountains on Earth and Mars and discover a big difference between volcanoes on these two planets.

The Earth-like Planet Gliese 518g
Topic: Discovering New Worlds, Space Math
Grade Level: K-4
Body: 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 Principle: A Model of Atmospheric Gases
Topic: Windy Worlds: Gas Giants, Atmospheres and Weather
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: Akatsuki (Venus), Earth Science (Earth), MAVEN (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: This activity introduces students to the atmospheric differences between the three "sister" planets in a graphic and hands-on way, using jelly beans or cotton balls to model different atmospheric gases. Students will use this understanding later as they begin to appreciate the scope and importance of the greenhouse effect on Earth.

The Orbit Simulator
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This simulator lets students explore many aspects of the orbits of planets -- and one comet. This could be a great teaching tool.

The Thousand Yard Model
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This is a classic exercise for visualizing just how BIG our solar system really is. Both the relative size and spacing of the planets are demonstrated in this outdoor exercise, using a mere peppercorn to represent the size of the Earth.

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Last Updated: 21 Oct 2011