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thumb - Solar System Math - NASA Quest! - 1

Solar System Math - NASA Quest!

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Lesson 4 How do missions to different planets and moons compare in terms of payload size and cost? Introduction In this lesson, students will calculate the total mass that is needed to support a mission to a possible destination in the solar system. Students will calculate the mass needed to keep a crew of three astronauts alive for the duration of a mission, the amount of science materials that can be transported on each mission, and the total cost of a mission. Students will compare the costs relative to the amount of scientific materials that can be transported to determine which planets or moons would be the best place(s) to send humans in our solar system. Main Concept The more time required for a mission to a planet or a moon, the more crew survival resources are needed. This affects both the cost of the mission and the amount of room available for scientific instruments. Instructional Objectives During this lesson, students will: • Calculate the mass of the resources needed to sustain a three-person crew on a mission to a given planet or moon. • Calculate the proportion (as a fraction, decimal, or percent) of a crew vehicle that is available for scientific instruments for a particular destination and plot the proportion on a number line to compare it with other destinations. • Calculate the cost of a launch to each destination and create graphs to compare these costs and the amount of room that is needed for scientific instruments for each mission. Major Focus Skills Math • Ratio and proportion • Comparing and ordering fractions, decimals, and percents • Units of measurement (metric and standard) • Data collection and representation Major Focus Concepts Math • Fractions, decimals, and percents are used to represent relationships between numbers. • Estimation • Whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percents can be placed on a number line to represent their relative values. ...

thumb - Moons of the Solar System - NASA - 1

Moons of the Solar System - NASA

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Moons — also called satellites — come in many shapes, sizes, and types. They are generally solid bodies, and few have atmospheres. Most of the planetary moons probably formed from the discs of gas and dust circulating around planets in the early solar system. As of September 2009, astronomers have found at least 145 moons orbiting planets in our solar system. This number does not include the six moons of the dwarf planets, nor does this tally include the tiny satellites that orbit some asteroids and other celestial objects. Of the terrestrial (rocky) planets of the inner solar system, neither Mercury nor Venus has any moons at all, Earth has one, and Mars has its two small moons. In the outer solar system, the gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn) and the ice giants (Uranus and Neptune) have numerous moons. As these planets grew in the early solar system, they were able to capture objects with their large gravitational fields. Earth’s Moon probably formed when a large body about the size of Mars collided with Earth, ejecting a lot of material from our planet into orbit. Debris from the early Earth and the impacting body accumulated to form the Moon approximately 4.5 billion years ago (the age of the oldest collected lunar rocks). Twelve American astronauts landed on the Moon during NASA’s Apollo program in 1969 to 1972, studying the Moon and bringing back rock samples. Usually the term “moon” brings to mind a spherical object, like Earth’s Moon. The two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, are somewhat different. While both have nearly circular orbits and travel close to the plane of the planet’s equator, they are lumpy and dark. Phobos is slowly drawing closer to Mars, and could crash into Mars in 40 or 50 million years, or the planet’s gravity might break Phobos apart, creating a thin ring around Mars. Jupiter has 49 known moons (plus 13 awaiting official confirmation), including the largest moon in the solar system, Ganymede. Many of Jupiter’s outer moons have highly elliptical orbits and orbit “backwards” (opposite to the spin of the planet). Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune also have some “irregular” moons, which orbit far from their respective planets.

thumb - Solar System Science - 1

Solar System Science

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n this activity, students explore and compare planets in our solar system. Each student becomes the “ambassador” for a planet and prepares by researching their planet, then meets with other ambassadors to form new mini-solar systems. Materials StarDate: The Solar System or other reference material on the solar system. Activity Split the class into small groups; each group researches one planet. Students in the group make a list showing the planet’s atmosphere, size, mass, distance from the Sun, geology and surface features, surface temperature, and moons. They also write a sentence describing something unique or striking about their planet — an impression. National Science Education Standards • Content Standard in 5-8 Earth and Space Science (Earth in the solar system) • Content Standard in 5-8 Science as Inquiry (Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry) • Content Standard in 5-8 Physical Science (Properties of objects and materials) Have one ambassador from each group join with ambassadors from other groups. Each group need not have exactly the same planet mix, but there should not be duplicates of a planet within a solar-system group. The ambassadors interview each other to exchange information and impressions. Once they have shared their information, the ambassadors should consider how they could organize themselves. Some might want to arrange themselves in order of distance from the Sun. Others might notice that some planets are small and rocky and others large and gaseous. “Solar systems” may invent several organization schemes. They will note interesting or unexpected planetary features. For instance, Olympus Mons, a “super volcano” on Mars, seems odd. Have each system report to the class. Hints: The results may vary if the mix of planets is different in each system. The teacher should help students sum up the results, noting …

thumb - Solar System Bead Distance Activity - 1

Solar System Bead Distance Activity

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Our solar system is immense in size. We think of the planets as revolving around the sun but rarely consider how far each planet is from the sun or from each other. Furthermore, we fail to appreciate the even greater distances to the other stars. Astronomers refer to the distance from the sun to the Earth as one “astronomical unit” or AU. This unit provides an easy way to calculate the distances of the other planets from the sun and build a scale model with the correct relative distances. Instructional Objective: By calculation and through the construction of a scale model solar system (based on their calculations where age-appropriate), students will observe the relative distances of the planets, the asteroid belt and dwarf planet Pluto from each other and the sun including the increasingly vast distance spacings of planets in the outer solar system compared to the inner solar system. National Science Education Standards: Standard D: Earth in the Solar System National Math Education Standards: NM.5-8.5 Number Relationships NM.5-8.13 Measurement Vocabulary: Astronomical Unit - 1AU = approximately 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) (149,597,870,700 kilometers or 92,955,807,238 miles to be exact!) Activity: We will construct a distance model of the solar system to scale, using colored beads as planets. The chart below shows the planets and asteroid belt in order along with their distance from the sun in astronomical units. First, complete the chart by multiplying each AU distance by our scale factor of 10 centimeters per astronomical unit. Next, use the new distance to construct a scale model of our solar system. Start your model by cutting a 4.5 meter piece of string (5.0 meters if you are doing the Pluto extension). Use the distances in centimeters that you have calculated in the chart below to measure the distance from the sun on the string to the appropriate planet and tie the colored bead in place. When you are finished, wrap your string solar system around the cardboard holder. Note that the bead colors are rough approximations of the colors of the planets and the sun, ...

thumb - Solar System Math - NASA Quest! - 1

Solar System Math - NASA Quest!

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In this lesson, students will use the geometry of circles to calculate the distance a crew vehicle would travel to reach another planet or moon in our solar system. Using the speed at which a crew vehicle would be traveling, students will calculate how long each mission would take. Based on this information, students will decide which planets or moons are too far away for humans to visit. Lesson 3 – OBJECTIVES, SKILLS, & CONCEPTS Main Concept Some planets are so far away that, with current technology, it would take a very long time for humans to reach them. Instructional Objectives During this lesson, students will: • Use the geometry of circles to calculate the distances a crew vehicle would travel from Earth to other planets and moons. • Use the speed of a crew vehicle to calculate the time a journey to each planet or moon would take. • Combine the time of a roundtrip journey to one of the planets or moons with the length of a synodic period between Earth and that planet or moon to determine the total mission length. • Use ratio and proportion, fractions, decimals, and percentages to compare mission lengths to average lifetimes and average careers. • Choose data points to graph and be able to communicate why particular data points and types of graphs are chosen. • Consider the different mission lengths and decide which planets or moons are too far away for humans to visit. Major Focus Skills Math topics covered in this lesson: • Converting units • Calculating speed using distance and time • Solving speed problems for distance or time • Graphing and data representation • Ratio and proportion • Converting metric units, customary units, and time units