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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

Exploring Comets and Modeling for Mission Success
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Comets
Mission: Deep Impact (Comets)

Short Description: The purpose of this activity is to give educators information and activities surrounding the basics of comet science. Students get the opportunity to follow the path science has taken throughout history to explore comets. They'll also learn about how we are currently exploring comets and why mission teams perform modeling exercises on Earth in order to assure mission success in space.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System - Unit 1
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets), Rosetta (Comets)

Short Description: Examine the importance of water in the form of ice in the solar system. From hands-on experiences with ice, the unit moves on to investigating ice in everyday life, in polar regions on Earth, and throughout the solar system.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System - Unit 2: The Voyage Continues
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets), Rosetta (Comets)

Short Description: The Voyage education unit uses the remarkable power of models to provide an understanding of Earth's place in the Solar System and the Sun's place among the stars.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System - Unit 3: The Voyage Continues
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets), Rosetta (Comets)

Short Description: The Voyage Continues education unit continues the exploration of the Solar System using the power of models to take a closer look into Solar System objects and phenomena.


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:

Exploring Comets and Modeling for Mission Success
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Comets
Mission: Deep Impact (Comets)

Short Description: The purpose of this activity is to give educators information and activities surrounding the basics of comet science. Students get the opportunity to follow the path science has taken throughout history to explore comets. They'll also learn about how we are currently exploring comets and why mission teams perform modeling exercises on Earth in order to assure mission success in space.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System - Unit 1
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets), Rosetta (Comets)

Short Description: Examine the importance of water in the form of ice in the solar system. From hands-on experiences with ice, the unit moves on to investigating ice in everyday life, in polar regions on Earth, and throughout the solar system.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System - Unit 2: The Voyage Continues
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets), Rosetta (Comets)

Short Description: The Voyage education unit uses the remarkable power of models to provide an understanding of Earth's place in the Solar System and the Sun's place among the stars.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System - Unit 3: The Voyage Continues
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets), Rosetta (Comets)

Short Description: The Voyage Continues education unit continues the exploration of the Solar System using the power of models to take a closer look into Solar System objects and phenomena.


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: