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The Red Planet
Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the diameter of Earth and has the same amount of dry land. Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons and weather, but its atmosphere is too thin for liquid water to exist for long on the surface. There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but evidence for water now exists mainly in icy soil and thin clouds.

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  Explore Mars in 3D Videos Activities

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Best of the Solar System
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Dawn (Dwarf Planets), Galileo (Jupiter), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This activity introduces students to planetary research. Using some of the most famous and interesting images of the solar system, students learn to focus on details by studying uncaptioned images. Next students increase their knowledge of the planets and their features by comparing their observations to those of real researchers. Students organize their findings to infer a key difference between inner and outer planets.


Cake Batter Lava
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students use cake batter to understand how different lavas flow and the structures that are created.


Changes Inside Planets (Differentiation and Breakup)
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Students conduct experiments to model the separation of light and heavy materials within a planetary body using gelatin. In a second activity, students model the break-up of a differentiated body using frozen hard-boiled eggs.


Changing Theories About Mars
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Mars

Short Description: Once thought to be home to life forms that built canals, the view of Mars' habitability has changed significantly over the past several decades. Keeping open-minded about new information allows scientists to fully explore options. Open-mindedness is important to the culture of science.


Cooling Planets
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Earth, Mars, Earth's Moon
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), InSight (Mars), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), MAVEN (Mars)

Short Description: In this activity, students take temperature readings from large and small containers of hot water, and graph the measurements to determine how volume affects cooling. They use this information to interpret the cooling histories of the different sizes of the inner, rocky planets of our inner solar system.


Cosmic Chemistry: Planetary Diversity
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time, Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), InSight (Mars)

Short Description: The goal of this module is to acquaint students with the planets of the solar system and some current models for their origin and evolution. During the explorations of the Cosmic Chemistry: Planetary Diversity module, students will make decisions concerning possible patterns or groupings of the physical and chemical compositions of internal structures and atmospheres of planets. Through classroom activities, they will be encouraged to examine some contemporary models proposed to explain the origin and evolution of the planets. In the final assessment activity students will use these experiences to predict the properties of the the missing planet that could have formed in the asteroid belt.


Crash Landing!
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: ARTEMIS (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), InSight (Mars), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), Venus Express (Venus), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars)

Short Description: This activity examines the conditions necessary to support on-going life on a planet. After considering the conditions needed for life as we know it, students select the most habitable planet, in a fictitious planetary system, on which to crash land.


Dirty Ice or Icy Dirt
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Mars
Mission: Phoenix (Mars)

Short Description: Large amounts of water ice appear to be buried at high latitudes on Mars. In this activity, students make physical models using Earth samples to investigate whether it is more likely that these regions of Mars are composed of icy dirt (with ice filling the pore space of soils) or dirty ice (with dust sprinkled through a mostly icy surface).


Dunking the Planets
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this 30-minute demonstration, children ages 9-13 compare the relative sizes and masses of scale models of the planets as represented by fruits and other foods. The children dunk the "planets" in water to highlight the fact that even a large, massive planet -- such as Saturn -- can have low density. They discuss how a planet's density is related to whether it is mainly made up of rock or gas.


Egg Drop Lander
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Mars
Mission: M-69/521 (Mars), Mars 2020 (Mars), Spirit/Opportunity (Mars), Mars Pathfinder (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Students design a package to contain and successfully land a raw egg, unbroken from a fall to the ground. While the calculations suggested in this description may be beyond young students, the challenges of designing a successful egg drop lander are appropriate for all ages.

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Previous
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Best of the Solar System
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Dawn (Dwarf Planets), Galileo (Jupiter), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This activity introduces students to planetary research. Using some of the most famous and interesting images of the solar system, students learn to focus on details by studying uncaptioned images. Next students increase their knowledge of the planets and their features by comparing their observations to those of real researchers. Students organize their findings to infer a key difference between inner and outer planets.


Cake Batter Lava
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students use cake batter to understand how different lavas flow and the structures that are created.


Changes Inside Planets (Differentiation and Breakup)
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Students conduct experiments to model the separation of light and heavy materials within a planetary body using gelatin. In a second activity, students model the break-up of a differentiated body using frozen hard-boiled eggs.


Changing Theories About Mars
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Mars

Short Description: Once thought to be home to life forms that built canals, the view of Mars' habitability has changed significantly over the past several decades. Keeping open-minded about new information allows scientists to fully explore options. Open-mindedness is important to the culture of science.


Cooling Planets
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Earth, Mars, Earth's Moon
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), InSight (Mars), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), MAVEN (Mars)

Short Description: In this activity, students take temperature readings from large and small containers of hot water, and graph the measurements to determine how volume affects cooling. They use this information to interpret the cooling histories of the different sizes of the inner, rocky planets of our inner solar system.


Cosmic Chemistry: Planetary Diversity
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time, Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), InSight (Mars)

Short Description: The goal of this module is to acquaint students with the planets of the solar system and some current models for their origin and evolution. During the explorations of the Cosmic Chemistry: Planetary Diversity module, students will make decisions concerning possible patterns or groupings of the physical and chemical compositions of internal structures and atmospheres of planets. Through classroom activities, they will be encouraged to examine some contemporary models proposed to explain the origin and evolution of the planets. In the final assessment activity students will use these experiences to predict the properties of the the missing planet that could have formed in the asteroid belt.


Crash Landing!
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: ARTEMIS (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), InSight (Mars), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), Venus Express (Venus), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars)

Short Description: This activity examines the conditions necessary to support on-going life on a planet. After considering the conditions needed for life as we know it, students select the most habitable planet, in a fictitious planetary system, on which to crash land.


Dirty Ice or Icy Dirt
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Mars
Mission: Phoenix (Mars)

Short Description: Large amounts of water ice appear to be buried at high latitudes on Mars. In this activity, students make physical models using Earth samples to investigate whether it is more likely that these regions of Mars are composed of icy dirt (with ice filling the pore space of soils) or dirty ice (with dust sprinkled through a mostly icy surface).


Dunking the Planets
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this 30-minute demonstration, children ages 9-13 compare the relative sizes and masses of scale models of the planets as represented by fruits and other foods. The children dunk the "planets" in water to highlight the fact that even a large, massive planet -- such as Saturn -- can have low density. They discuss how a planet's density is related to whether it is mainly made up of rock or gas.


Egg Drop Lander
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Mars
Mission: M-69/521 (Mars), Mars 2020 (Mars), Spirit/Opportunity (Mars), Mars Pathfinder (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Students design a package to contain and successfully land a raw egg, unbroken from a fall to the ground. While the calculations suggested in this description may be beyond young students, the challenges of designing a successful egg drop lander are appropriate for all ages.

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