The Impacts in the Solar System program will begin with students traveling on a virtual expedition into our Solar System to explore impact craters on a mystery object, and how they compare to impact craters on Earth.
With an understanding that scientists classify objects in space after observing patterns about their shape, size, composition, and orbits, students will practice this skill by categorizing objects from our solar system by finding patterns with their partner. They will examine scale models of four objects—Itokawa, 67-P, Vesta, and Ceres—to try to categorize them based on their observations.
During the scale model investigation, they’ll place the cutouts of the objects on maps of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, and the United States to conceptualize and compare their sizes. They will also make inferences about how these objects’ surface and shape has been affected by impacts.
After exploring the scale of these objects, students will compare their orbits and make inferences about how an object’s orbit might affect its likelihood of impact.
Students will then observe images of an impact on Jupiter’s surface to examine what impacts look like on gaseous planets. We will discuss whether all objects in the Solar System are affected by impacts, and what those impacts look like on different objects.
Finally, we will discuss why there are so many impact craters all over the Solar System and how we can predict when future impacts will occur on Earth.