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Icy Travelers
Comets are cosmic snowballs of frozen gases, rock and dust roughly the size of a small town. When a comet's orbit brings it close to the sun, it heats up and spews dust and gases into a giant glowing head larger than most planets. The dust and gases form a tail that stretches away from the sun for millions of kilometers.

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  Explore Comets in 3D Videos Activities

Stardust Mission #1: Think Small in a Big Way
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites, Comets
Mission: Stardust (Comets)

Short Description: Students will discover what happens when impactors hit the surface of a planet using balls of different sizes, flour and cocoa.


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:


What is a Planet?
Grade Level: 9-12
Solar System Body: Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Pluto
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Students learn about the characteristics of planets, comets, asteroids, and trans-Neptunian objects through a classification activity. Students can then apply what they have learned by participating in a formal debate about a solar system object discovered by the New Horizons spacecraft and by defining the term "planet."

Stardust Mission #1: Think Small in a Big Way
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites, Comets
Mission: Stardust (Comets)

Short Description: Students will discover what happens when impactors hit the surface of a planet using balls of different sizes, flour and cocoa.


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:


What is a Planet?
Grade Level: 9-12
Solar System Body: Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Pluto
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Students learn about the characteristics of planets, comets, asteroids, and trans-Neptunian objects through a classification activity. Students can then apply what they have learned by participating in a formal debate about a solar system object discovered by the New Horizons spacecraft and by defining the term "planet."