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The Pluto Files
Learn the Science
EXPLORE PLANETS
With Pluto's demotion, today our solar system includes four terrestrial planets, four giant planets, and a cohort of Pluto-like dwarf planets. Explore some of these planets with your students.
The Pluto Files (Video)
Hear how astronomer Mike Brown's discovery of a 10th planet, Eris, prompted the International Astronomical Union to establish a new official definition of the word "planet"—a definition that Pluto clearly did not fit into. (Chapter 5, approx. 10 min.; Program available after broadcast)


What's Your Favorite Planet? (Audio Interactive)
Listen in as 11 astronomers make pitches for the "best" planet, then vote yourself.


Can You Remember the Planets? (Facebook Connect)
Visit NOVA on Facebook to share your ideas for remembering planetary names—with Pluto's change in status, the old tricks no longer cut it.


10th Planet (Multimedia)
Learn how a stunning discovery at the far reaches of our solar system raises questions about what makes a planet a planet.


Is There Life on Mars? (Multimedia)
Delve into the long-standing question, "Is there life on Mars?" View images of Mars' surface, listen to an audio slideshow, hear from an expert, and more.


A Strange New Planet (Video)
Hear two of the most successful planet-hunters discuss the search for extra-solar planets, 155 of which have been discovered since 1995 orbiting stars other than our Sun.


Design a Parachute (Lesson/Interactive)
Take on the role of the lead engineer and design a parachute for the Mars Exploration Rover.

Curriculum Connections
Engineering, design, parachutes, Mars Exploration Rover, NASA, problem solving, volume, drag, strength, stability

Standards
Grades 5-8
Standard A: Science as Inquiry: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry, Understanding about scientific inquiry
Standard B: Physical Science: Motions and forces
Standard E: Science and Technology: Abilities of a technological design, Understanding about science and technology
Standard G: History and Nature of Science: Science as a human endeavor, Nature of science

Grades 9-12
Standard A: Science as Inquiry: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry, Understanding about scientific inquiry
Standard B: Physical Science: Motions and forces
Standard E: Science and Technology: Abilities of a technological design, Understanding about science and technology
Standard G: History and Nature of Science: Science as a human endeavor, Nature of scientific knowledge



EXTENSION ACTIVITY
Detecting Life (Interactive/Lesson)
See how scientists sniff out signs of life on distant planets, then try it yourself in this video and quiz.

Curriculum Connections
Astronomy, life on other planets, extraterrestrial life, stars, planets, infrared light, light emission, heat emission, reflection, refraction, spectrums, absorption, atmospheric chemicals

Standards
Grades 5-8
Standard A: Science as Inquiry: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry, Understanding about scientific inquiry
Standard D: Earth and Space Science: Structure of the earth system, Earth in the solar system

Grades 9-12
Standard A: Science as Inquiry: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry, Understanding about scientific inquiry
Standard D: Earth and Space Science: Energy in the earth system, The origin and evolution of the earth system



   

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