We are denizens of Gaia, a planet orbiting a star called Sol, also known as Helios. Gaia's neighborhood is a solar system consisting of Sol, nine planets, many moons of planets, and zillions of asteroids and comets. Teachers and students can use information in Solar System Backpack to model the motions of the planets as they go around Sol.

Collection Contents

CTECs Mission to Mars

by Bob and George

C-TEC's Mission to Mars was first published in the column "Power Tools for Math & Science" in The Computing Teacher, May 1994. The Computing Teacher, now called Learning and Leading with Technology, is the magazine of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). C-TEC's Mission to Mars was one of our first adventures in the virtual exploration of Mars, inspired by Eric Burgess's Return to the Red Planet, Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, Ben Bova's Mars, and visits to NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Here we present an edited version of C-TEC's Mission to Mars. It has been more than ten years since the article appeared in The Computing Teacher. Much ado about Mars has happened since then! Many of the nonfiction resources we used in 1993–1994 may be replaced by up-to-date resources. The novels, Bova's Mars and Robinson's Red Mars, are still A-OK. Reality expands to fill the available fantasies. – Laran Stardrake
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Page 1. Earth & Mars data collected by Bob & George (StarshipGaia@aol.com) from the National Space Sciences Data Center's Earth Fact Sheet (http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/earthfact.html) and Mars Fact Sheet (http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/marsfact.html), and Christopher McKay's article "Bringing Life to Mars" in the March 1999 issue of Scientific American. Page 2. Earth & Mars scale orbits, circular approximations. Scale 5 cm : 1 AU
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We went to Solar System Live (www.fourmilab.ch/solar/solar.html) and collected images of the orbital positions of the inner planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars for the five oppositions and four conjunctions of Earth and Mars during Earth years 2001 through 2010. At opposition, the Sun and Mars are on opposites sides of Earth, and you can draw a line segment from the Sun through Earth to Mars. At conjunction, Earth and Mars are on opposite sides of the Sun, and you can draw a line segment from Earth through the Sun to Mars.
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We make a poster and used it to model the motions of the inner planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars as they went around the Sun in Earth year 2005. You and your students can model the motions of the inner planets for the school year of your choice. Attention span: one school year. Time to do it: 30 to 60 minutes to make the poster, a few minutes once a month for students to update the poster. Learning payoff: learn about the motions of the planets, long attention span for small investment in time.
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We made a poster and used it to model the motions of the inner planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars as they went around the Sun during school year 2005 - 2006. Attention span: one school year. Time to do it: 30 minutes to make the poster, a few minutes once a month for students to update the poster. Learning payoff: learn about the motions of the planets, long attention span for small investment in time. You can do it for the school year of your choice.
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