what could be more beautiful than the heavens which
contain all beautiful things --Nicholas Copernicus,
Alien Worlds, David Latham and his colleagues succeed
in detecting a planet outside our own solar system.
Today, these scientists can infer very little about
the actual surface conditions of extrasolar planets.
But thanks to new tools in development that can detect
key elements such as carbon dioxide and chlorophyll,
we may one day be able determine whether or not these
faraway planets could support life. (For more on this
topic, check out the Web Feature Is
Anybody Out There?) Here on Earth we humans thrive
thanks to breathable air, fertile soil, and relatively
hospitable temperatures. But what would we need to survive
on another planet?
In the following activity, you will get to create your own extrasolar
planet, then make the necessary adaptations for your planet
to support human life.
of the following depending on the type of model constructed:
piece of cardboard from a pizza box (or poster board)
materials such as:
Paper and drawing supplies
(to make an edible planet)
DOES YOUR PLANET LOOK LIKE?
your own planet by answering the following questions:
is the diameter and mass of your planet?
is its density and composition (solid or gaseous)?
is its temperature and distance from its sun(s)?
long does it take for it to rotate on its axis and
how long does it take to orbit its sun(s)?
what is its atmosphere made?
distinctive features does it have?
a model of your planet using a circular piece of cardboard,
about 30 cm. in diameter.
features on your planet using any of the materials listed
above. Label the planet's features.
all of the questions listed in # 1 above, either by writing
a report, doing a multimedia presentation, creating a
web page, designing a poster, drawing a picture, etc.
your planet support human life?
a list of the elements necessary to sustain human life.
your planet's atmosphere and other distinctive features,
how might humans adapt to this new planet? Perhaps people
would live in a dome due to a lack of oxygen in the atmosphere.
Perhaps your oxygen source comes from the planet's core,
and therefore it needs to be pumped to the surface to
of what you would need to build or create in order to
sustain life on the new planet. What materials would you
use and where would you get them? What kind of construction
would you need to complete?
this new feature to your planet model and change your
LETTER TO ANOTHER WORLD
Imagine that an intelligent civilization has recently been
discovered on another planet. If you were asked to write
Earth's first communication with these beings,
would you write?
would you describe our planet and the human race?
questions would you ask about their way of life?
to distances in the universe, research how long it might
take to get an answer back
Scientists have launched several messages into space in
the hopes that they might one day be intercepted by an intelligent
Pioneer 10 Plaque
You have received a message from an intelligent life form,
but it is written in code that must be deciphered. This
situation is simulated in the following activity:
a code for writing messages and invent a key which can
be used decipher this code. One example might be A=B,
B=C, C=D, etc., so that "TQBDF" would be "SPACE."
a message to a friend in your code and see if they can
decode it. (You may have to give them a clue or two!)
your friend write back using the code.
how well you were able to communicate.
Mission: A Search for Habitable Planets This space mission
is designed to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth-size
planets in the Habitable Zone.
Science News With the discovery of extra-Solar planets
smaller than Saturn, astronomers are increasingly convinced
that other stars harbor planetary systems like our own.
and Satellites Information on all nine planets in our
solar system, such as size, density, composition, and moons.
Voyage to the Milky Way
Life Beyond Earth
activity was contributed by Betty Paulsell, Science Coordinator
at the Pioneer Ridge Science Education Center, Independence,