In the Asteroid Encounter program, students take on the roles of 12 scientists and engineers as they send spacecraft to an asteroid. Students work in team to accomplish the specific goals of the mission. The mission is an authentic experience which gives students a unique perspective into what goes into putting any craft into space.
Preparation and follow-up activities are important components of the mission simulation experience. Lesson plans are prepared for teachers to choose from when preparing their students for the missions. The lessons include topics such as:
Composition of Asteroids
They also utilize a number of different teaching formats to ensure learning opportunities for all students.
NEARlink® simulates NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker spacecraft that observed two different asteroids, Eros and Mathilde. Students assume roles like “mission manager” and “public affairs officer” to work together as mission control launch the spacecraft. The spacecraft performs a flyby of Mathilde. Students must then make advanced calculations to adjust the spacecraft’s course and align it with Eros, where it will rendezvous and make further observations. The simulation is the perfect resource for physical science classes, and the calculations required to track the orbits of the asteroids also make it an excellent addition to physics curriculum.
Space Explorers applets are an exceptional tool to not only illustrate complex concepts, but also allow students to make and test predictions. The inquiry-based applets complement the lesson plans and simulations while allowing students to learn at their own pace. These are ideal for visual and hands-on learners.
The Interactive Applets were created to allow students to test out various scenarios to better understand the forces involved in asteroid impacts, trajectory correction techniques, launch windows, and aerobraking calculations. These allow for a fun, fast paced learning experience related to NASA missions. The Applets are designed to be completed online, and include corresponding lesson plans combining contextual and activity-based exercises to key science concepts with fun, interactive activities.
Students begin exploring the Space Library® by selecting what interests them most. Space Library® has detailed information about the planets, the Sun, the Moon, comets, rockets & X-planes, deep space, asteroids, and live missions. For each planet in our solar system, students will find planetary data, images, information about past, current, and future missions, and much more.
The Space Library is comprised of engaging articles that aid students to apply research and critical thinking skills. Teachers can direct students to the Space Library as they seek answers to questions and conduct further investigations.
National Science Standards
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