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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.
Learners will build an open spectrograph to calculate the angle the light is transmitted through a holographic diffraction grating. After finding the desired angles, the students will design their own spectrograph using the information learned. The... (View More) 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 an activity about the Signal-to-Noise Ratio. Learners will engage with a hands-on activity and an online interactive to understand the terms signal and noise as they relate to spacecraft communication; quantify noise using a given dataset;... (View More) and calculate the signal-to-noise ratio. The activity also includes a pencil-and-paper component that addresses relevant topics, such as proportions and ratios. Includes teacher background information, student data sheets, answer guide, extensions and adaptions. (View Less)
This is an activity about spacecraft radio communications. Learners will explore spacecraft radio communications concepts, including the speed of light and the time-delay for signals sent to and from spacecraft. Learners measure the time it takes... (View More) for a radio signal to travel to a spacecraft using the speed of light, demonstrate the delay in radio communication signals to and from a spacecraft, and devise unique solutions to the radio-signal-delay problem. In an extension, learners are asked to calculate the distance the spacecraft traveled. All NASA spacecraft missions have a telecommunications system and use radio waves to transmit signals. The context for this activity is sending a command to the New Horizons spacecraft telling it to take a picture of Pluto. Includes teacher background, adaptations, and student data sheets. (View Less)
Learners will be introduced to the concepts of error analysis, including standard deviation. They will apply the knowledge of averages (means), standard deviation from the mean, and error analysis to their own classroom distribution of heights. They... (View More) will then apply this knowledge to data from the Student Dust Counter (SDC) onboard the New Horizons mission to determine the issues associated with taking data, including error and noise. Note: Updated links to the Student Dust Counter Data Viewer and website are provided under Related & Supplemental Resources (right). (View Less)
This is a collection of mathematical problems about transits in the solar system. Learners can work problems created to be authentic glimpses of modern science and engineering issues, often involving actual research data.
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) participants and a large open space. Includes mathematics extensions. (View Less)
Learners will use data from the Student Dust Counter (SDC) Data Viewer to establish any trends in the distribution of dust in the solar system. Students record the number of dust particles, or hits, recorded by the instrument and the average mass of... (View More) the particles in a given region. Note: Updated links to the Student Dust Counter Data Viewer and website are provided under Related & Supplemental Resources (right). (View Less)
Learners will relate the concept of density to the density of dust in space. They will use mission data from the Student Dust Counter (SDC) data viewer to determine the density of dust grains in a volume of space in order to answer questions... (View More) concerning the distribution of dust in the solar system. They will discover that space is much more sparsely populated with dust than they may have thought. Students discuss their findings with the class. Note: Updated links to the Student Dust Counter Data Viewer and website are provided under Related & Supplemental Resources (right). (View Less)