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Emergency Mission 5002

Physical Science in Space

Module Highlights

It is the year 2112. The United Federation of Nations’ Earth Space Program has created five intergalactic manned space crafts to explore Earth-like planets in our neighboring galaxies. The space crafts have warp drive capacity and the missions are set to last 10 years. Mission Control, based in Boulder, Colorado, received an urgent message earlier this week from Captain Langer on the Space Craft Andromeda. Andromeda astronauts have located three moons orbiting gas giants in the habitable zone of the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 876 (pronounced “gleeza”). They need the students’ help to figure out which of these moons contain liquid water so their supplies can be replenished and they can return home for repairs. Andromeda sends probes with samples to the students at their school. The students are then given instruction on the design and construction of a diffusion chamber. This chamber will be used determine which sample is water. The students then compile their evidence, create and submit a report back to Andromeda. Only Andromeda will know if they are correct.

Skills and Knowledge Acquired

  • Understanding of the properties of water
  • Introduction to distance in outer space and light speed
  • Understanding of the process of diffusion
  • Hands-On experience building diffusion chambers
  • History of space travel and prospects for the future
  •  Presentation Development Skills
  • Presentation Skills
NASA Artist Rendering of Gliese 876
Image Credit: NASA

Learning Objectives

With this module, Looking-Glass Science expects students to:
  • Learn about extrasolar planets and habitable zones
  • Learn about methods to test for the presence of different substances
  • Learn about the comparative properties of liquids
  • Develop presentation skills
  • Understand the real-life implications of the scientific method
  • Experience, first hand, the benefits of collaborative problem solving

Module Contents

  • Teacher’s Guide Overview
  • Materials for diffusion chambers including pre-cut bottles and cups
  • Suggestions for Supplementary Reading
  • Plastic storage container
Ice Crystals from Diffusion

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