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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.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System
Topic: Ice in the Solar System, Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8
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.


Exponential Functions and the Atmosphere
Topic: Space Math, Windy Worlds: Gas Giants, Atmospheres and Weather
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Earth, Mars, Earth's Moon
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars)

Short Description: A study of the way a planet's atmosphere changes as its temperature is changed using exponential functions.


Gelatin Volcanoes
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Jell-O is used to explore how lava flows in a volcano.


Goldilocks and the Three Planets
Topic: Windy Worlds: Gas Giants, Atmospheres and Weather
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: Akatsuki (Venus), MAVEN (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students determine what some of Earth, Venus and Mars' atmosphere is composed of and then mathematically compare the amount of the greenhouse gas, CO2, on the planets Venus, Earth and Mars in order to determine which has the most.


Inside Mars -- Puzzling Patterns -- Where Does Volcanism Occur?
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: Students compare volcano maps of Earth and Mars and identify patterns, similarities and differences.


Investigating the Martian Polar Caps
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use internet resources and image processing to measure and compare the Martian and terrestrial polar caps at different seasons, and analyze their results.


Making and Mapping a Volcano
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: After each of a series of vinegar/baking soda eruptions, students use Play-Doh to mark where the lava flowed. In teams they examine the stratigraphy and map the flows.


Mars Pathfinder Egg Drop and Landing
Topic: Ancient Astronomers / Modern Tools
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Mars
Mission: Mars Pathfinder (Mars)

Short Description: One important tool used by modern planetary scientists is a lander. In this activity, students model a mechanism for safely delivering a lander to the surface of another world.


Mars Robotics Activities
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Mars
Mission: MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Mars robotics activities provide ideal ways to help students understand the role of engineering and technology in today's world. From looking at personal robots to those we send to other worlds, these activities will help students learn the different elements necessary to design, build and support robotic missions to the Red Planet.


Remote Sensing Ices on Mars
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Global Surveyor (Mars)

Short Description: Students analyze data collected by Mars spacecraft using three different energies of light -- visible light, infrared light and gamma rays -- to investigate the composition and distribution of ices at the high latitude regions of Mars.


Rivers on Mars
Topic: Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Mars
Mission: Spirit/Opportunity (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: This modified version of a middle school activity was created for young elementary students.Using stream tables, students simulate the development of the Martian landscape through water flow and erosion.


Scratching the Surface -- Carving Channels
Topic: Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Mars
Mission: M-69/521 (Mars), Mars Express (Mars), MOM (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Students create channel features with flowing water. Their observations of the ways in which flowing water alters the surrounding terrain will be used as clues to draw conclusions about Mars' geologic past.


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.


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.


Tales of ... Dust Storms Seen on Mars
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars)

Short Description: This activity details the weather on Mars from the earliest account in 1796 to 2001. This information can be used to introduce the idea that other planets experience seasons like Earth, as students learn how new data changes our understanding of Mars.


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 Solar Wind Tunnel: A Comet Borrelly Interactive
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets
Mission: Rosetta (Comets), SOHO (Comets), Wind (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students compare their observations of the solar wind's interaction with magnetized planets, non-magnetized planets, comets, and asteroids, and record their observations online.


Time Lineup
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon
Mission: ARTEMIS (Earth's Moon), Cassini (Saturn), Dawn (Dwarf Planets), Galileo (Jupiter), Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System), InSight (Mars), Juno (Jupiter), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System), WISE (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students work in groups or as a class to determine the order of events that formed our solar system. This is an excellent activity to begin discussion of events that shaped the solar system and how Earth's geosphere and biosphere have changed -- in an interrelated manner -- through time.


What's the Difference?
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: InSight (Mars), MAVEN (Mars)

Short Description: This is a free multimedia software application that facilitates scientific analysis by allowing virtually any pictures, graphics, animations, and movies to be compared side by side. The solar system dataset contains comparisons of the planets and major moons within our solar system. Users can upload graphical, animated, interactive, textual, and audio-formatted content into the categories and attributes grid and then supplement their data with customized multiple choice and summary assessment tests.


Why Follow the Water
Topic: Astrobiology: Got Life?, Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Phoenix (Mars)

Short Description: Students investigate several physical properties of liquid water to better understand why we think water is important for life. An extension activity investigates the connection between liquid water and plant productivity on Earth.

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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.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System
Topic: Ice in the Solar System, Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8
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.


Exponential Functions and the Atmosphere
Topic: Space Math, Windy Worlds: Gas Giants, Atmospheres and Weather
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Earth, Mars, Earth's Moon
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars)

Short Description: A study of the way a planet's atmosphere changes as its temperature is changed using exponential functions.


Gelatin Volcanoes
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Jell-O is used to explore how lava flows in a volcano.


Goldilocks and the Three Planets
Topic: Windy Worlds: Gas Giants, Atmospheres and Weather
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: Akatsuki (Venus), MAVEN (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students determine what some of Earth, Venus and Mars' atmosphere is composed of and then mathematically compare the amount of the greenhouse gas, CO2, on the planets Venus, Earth and Mars in order to determine which has the most.


Inside Mars -- Puzzling Patterns -- Where Does Volcanism Occur?
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: Students compare volcano maps of Earth and Mars and identify patterns, similarities and differences.


Investigating the Martian Polar Caps
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use internet resources and image processing to measure and compare the Martian and terrestrial polar caps at different seasons, and analyze their results.


Making and Mapping a Volcano
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: After each of a series of vinegar/baking soda eruptions, students use Play-Doh to mark where the lava flowed. In teams they examine the stratigraphy and map the flows.


Mars Pathfinder Egg Drop and Landing
Topic: Ancient Astronomers / Modern Tools
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Mars
Mission: Mars Pathfinder (Mars)

Short Description: One important tool used by modern planetary scientists is a lander. In this activity, students model a mechanism for safely delivering a lander to the surface of another world.


Mars Robotics Activities
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Mars
Mission: MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Mars robotics activities provide ideal ways to help students understand the role of engineering and technology in today's world. From looking at personal robots to those we send to other worlds, these activities will help students learn the different elements necessary to design, build and support robotic missions to the Red Planet.


Remote Sensing Ices on Mars
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Global Surveyor (Mars)

Short Description: Students analyze data collected by Mars spacecraft using three different energies of light -- visible light, infrared light and gamma rays -- to investigate the composition and distribution of ices at the high latitude regions of Mars.


Rivers on Mars
Topic: Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Mars
Mission: Spirit/Opportunity (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: This modified version of a middle school activity was created for young elementary students.Using stream tables, students simulate the development of the Martian landscape through water flow and erosion.


Scratching the Surface -- Carving Channels
Topic: Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Mars
Mission: M-69/521 (Mars), Mars Express (Mars), MOM (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Students create channel features with flowing water. Their observations of the ways in which flowing water alters the surrounding terrain will be used as clues to draw conclusions about Mars' geologic past.


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.


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.


Tales of ... Dust Storms Seen on Mars
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars)

Short Description: This activity details the weather on Mars from the earliest account in 1796 to 2001. This information can be used to introduce the idea that other planets experience seasons like Earth, as students learn how new data changes our understanding of Mars.


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 Solar Wind Tunnel: A Comet Borrelly Interactive
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets
Mission: Rosetta (Comets), SOHO (Comets), Wind (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students compare their observations of the solar wind's interaction with magnetized planets, non-magnetized planets, comets, and asteroids, and record their observations online.


Time Lineup
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon
Mission: ARTEMIS (Earth's Moon), Cassini (Saturn), Dawn (Dwarf Planets), Galileo (Jupiter), Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System), InSight (Mars), Juno (Jupiter), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System), WISE (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students work in groups or as a class to determine the order of events that formed our solar system. This is an excellent activity to begin discussion of events that shaped the solar system and how Earth's geosphere and biosphere have changed -- in an interrelated manner -- through time.


What's the Difference?
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: InSight (Mars), MAVEN (Mars)

Short Description: This is a free multimedia software application that facilitates scientific analysis by allowing virtually any pictures, graphics, animations, and movies to be compared side by side. The solar system dataset contains comparisons of the planets and major moons within our solar system. Users can upload graphical, animated, interactive, textual, and audio-formatted content into the categories and attributes grid and then supplement their data with customized multiple choice and summary assessment tests.


Why Follow the Water
Topic: Astrobiology: Got Life?, Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Phoenix (Mars)

Short Description: Students investigate several physical properties of liquid water to better understand why we think water is important for life. An extension activity investigates the connection between liquid water and plant productivity on Earth.

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