Have the students read the article ‘Space Rocks’ from the National Geographic Extreme Explorer magazine. Asteroids are rocky, airless worlds that orbit our sun, but are too small to be called planets. Tens of thousands of these minor planets are gathered in the main asteroid belt, a vast doughnut-shaped ring between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids that pass close to Earth are called near-earth objects. Each group of four students will be given a topic on various inventions and innovations in the field of asteroid exploration. Students are required to research the topics and create a presentation based on their findings. The use of graphics and mind-maps are encouraged, to help present their discoveries in the next lesson. The students could even use the Magazine Maker 2 software to present their results.
Groups 1 and 2 Near- Earth Asteroid Tracking Amors, Apollos, and Atens are the three categories of Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). Amor asteroids approach the Earth's orbit from the outside, Apollo asteroids cross the Earth's orbit, and Aten asteroids approach the Earth's orbit from the inside. Talk about the different categories and their characterizations.
Groups 3 and 4 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids Cosmic impact has the potential to eliminate humankind as we know it. Therefore, it is critical for us to systematically assess the magnitude of this threat. Discuss the geological, atmospheric and biological effects of cosmic impact on Earth.
Groups 5 and 6 Near- Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat) The Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat), launched February 25, 2013, is the world's first space telescope dedicated to detecting and tracking asteroids and satellites. Explain how the satellite works and how it produces information vital for future space exploration missions.
Groups 7 and 8 Mining Asteroids Asteroids are lumps of metals, rock and dust, sometimes laced with ices and tar, which are the cosmic "leftovers" from the solar system's formation about 4.5 billion years ago. There are hundreds of thousands of them, ranging in size from a few yards to hundreds of miles across. Explain how asteroids could one day be a new source of scarce material.