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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!


The Goldilocks Principle: A Model of Atmospheric Gases
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System 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 History and Discovery of Asteroids
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Asteroids
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Learners will explore scientific discoveries and the technologies as a sequence of events that led eventually to the Dawn mission.


The Hunt for Micrometeorites
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Earth, Meteors & Meteorites

Short Description: In this activity, students collect and identify micrometeorites from space.


The Moons of Jupiter
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Jupiter, Europa

Short Description: Students investigate how the density of Jupiter's moons is related to their diameter and their distance from Jupiter.


The Oldest Lunar Rocks
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo 11 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 12 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 14 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 15 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 16 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 17 (Earth's Moon)

Short Description: Apollo astronauts recovered over 840 pounds of lunar rocks, and during the last 30 years, these have been carefully studied to find out which features came first, and the ancient hi story of the lunar surface including its formation.


The Orbit Simulator
Grade Level: 3-5
Solar System Body: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Comets
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.

NGSS Connections:


The Penny Moon and Quarter Earth
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: The students will use a penny and a quarter to model the Moon's rotation on its axis and revolution around the Earth, and demonstrate that the Moon keeps the same face toward the Earth


The Transit of Mercury
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Mercury, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun), Mariner 10 (Mercury), MESSENGER (Mercury)

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.

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Last Updated: 21 Oct 2011