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This project engages students in the science and engineering processes used by NASA Astrobiologists as they explore our Solar System and try to answer the compelling question, "Are we Alone?" Students will identify science mission goals and select... (View More) an astrobiologically significant target of interest: Mars, Europa, Enceladus or Titan. Students will then design their mission to this target in search of their chosen biosignature(s). Students will encounter the same considerations and challenges facing NASA scientists and engineers as they search for life in our Solar System. Students will need to balance the return of their science data with engineering limitations such as power, mass and budget. Risk factors play a role and will add to the excitement in this interactive science and engineering activity. Astrobiobound! will help students see how science and systems engineering are integrated to achieve a focused scientific goal. Includes an alignment document for NGSS and Common Core State Standards. (View Less)
Become a crime scene investigator! Learners model Dawn Mission scientists, engineers, and technologists and how they use instrumentation to detect distant worlds. After a briefing to build context, students explore interactions between different... (View More) frequencies/wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum and matter as they investigate the different ways scientists gather and understand remote sensing data, using Dawn instruments as examples. This module is organized around a learning cycle, engaging students through several experiences to activate students' prior knowledge and assess conceptual understanding, informing next steps. (View Less)
This activity is about planetary rovers. Learners will simulate the challenges in communications that engineers face when driving a rover on Mars. They will particpate as part of a rover team to design and execute a series of commands that will... (View More) guide a rover made of people through an obstacle course simulating the Martian surface. Students will learn the limitations of operating a planetary rover and problem solving solutions by using this simulation. The lesson models the engineering design process using the 5E instructional model and includes teacher notes, vocabulary, student journal and reading. (View Less)
Learners will play a card game to design a mission to Mars. This game will allow them to experience the fundamentals of the engineering design process as they use collaboration and problem-solving skills to develop a mission that meets constraints... (View More) (budget, mass, power) and criteria (significant science return). This activity can introduce many activities in technology education, including robotics and rocketry. The lesson models scientific inquiry using the 5E instructional model and includes teacher notes, vocabulary, student journal and reading. (View Less)
Learners will take and then compare the images taken by a camera - to learn about focal length (and its effects on field of view), resolution, and ultimately how cameras take close-up pictures of far away objects. Finally, they will apply this... (View More) knowledge to the images of comet Tempel 1 taken by two different spacecraft with three different cameras, in this case Deep Impact and those expected/obtained from Stardust-NExT. This lesson could easily be adapted for use with images from other NASA missions. (View Less)
This is a math-science integrated unit about spectrographs. Learners will find and calculate the angle that light is transmitted through a holographic diffraction grating using trigonometry. After finding this angle, the students will build their... (View More) own spectrographs in groups and research and design a ground or space-based mission using their creation. After the project is complete, student groups will present to the class on their trials, tribulations, and findings during this process. The activity is part of Project Spectra, a science and engineering program for middle-high school students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. (View Less)
This is a series of three webpages about how humans and computers communicate. Learners will explore the binary and hexidecimal systems and how engineers use them to translate spacecraft data into images.
This is a game about data compression. Learners will use virtual foam balls to explore the different compression methods (lossless, lossy, and superchannel) used by the Earth Observing 3 mission.
Learners will explore how engineers minimize the use of fuel by utilizing gravity. In Activity 1, students explore the physical conservation laws by observing the behavior of balls colliding with other objects. In Activity 2, the students use an... (View More) interactive online simulation tool to explore the various ways in which gravity assists can be used to aid space exploration. Note: The MESSENGER mission to Mercury that is mentioned in this lesson ended operations April 30, 2015. For the latest information about MESSENGER and NASA's solar system missions see the links under Related & Supplemental Resources (right side of this page). (View Less)
Learners will investigate various ways to improve mission design to maximize the scientific return. In the first activity, students examine how the use of flowcharts can help make computer programs error-free and efficient, in this way making the... (View More) spacecraft more reliable. In the second activity, the students investigate how data can be compressed for transmission over limited bandwidth. By the end of the lesson, the students come to realize that the wealth of data gathered by spacecraft is useless if it cannot be transmitted safely and efficiently to scientists on Earth. Note: The MESSENGER mission to Mercury that is mentioned in this lesson ended operations April 30, 2015. For the latest information about MESSENGER and NASA's solar system missions see the links under Related & Supplemental Resources (right side of this page). (View Less)