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Comparative planetology  
Asteroids and comets  
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In this lesson, learners will use images to observe and compare the surfaces of two comet nuclei from close range. Separate teachers guides and students guides are provided. Supplementary resources needed for the lesson are provided and include... (View More)

Audience: Middle school, High school
Materials Cost: Free

Learners will explore the physical characteristics of comets by reaching into a series of boxes and feeling the materials and structures within. They will describe what they observe and speculate on comet characteristics being modeled in each box,... (View More)

This is an activity about mission planning. Learners will use the roles of a navigation team, spacecraft, comet, Earth, and Sun to simulate how mission planners design a spacecraft/comet rendezvous. This activity requires at least four active... (View More)

In this activity, learners replicate the scientific processes of observing, forming an explanation, revising and communicating about a model of a comet. Learners construct a model of features of a comet using an assortment of common craft supplies.... (View More)

In this lesson, students observe the surface of rotating potatoes to help them understand how astronomers can sometimes determine the shape of asteroids from variations in reflective brightness.

This is a lesson about the characteristics of planets, comets, asteroids, and trans-Neptunian objects. Learners will classify objects and then apply what they have learned by participating in a formal debate about a solar system object discovered by... (View More)

Audience: High school
Materials Cost: Free

Learners will use direct vocabulary instruction to learn the new definitions of planet, dwarf planet, and asteroid. The publicity generated by the International Astronomical Union's definition of Pluto as a dwarf planet in 2006 created a teachable... (View More)

This is a lesson about the science supporting the design and operation of an ion propulsion engine. Learners will study the concepts of formation and discharge of charged particles, attractive and repulsive forces between charged particles, and the... (View More)

Audience: High school
Materials Cost: Free

This is an activity about motion in a frame of reference. Learners will develop an understanding that motion is relative by reading the text "Frames of Reference." As a follow-up to the reading, students engage in a writing-to-learn strategy that... (View More)

Audience: High school

This is a lesson/briefing about the Dawn mission and the significance of its ion propulsion system. Learners will consider cases of science fact versus science fictions, study the challenges of the Dawn mission, and apply the "History Frame"... (View More)

Audience: High school
Materials Cost: Free