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astroventure

Webcasts astro ferret


The Search for Extra-Solar Planets

Habitable Planets
Spectroscopy: Determining a Star's Type

spectrum of light


Habitable Zone: Determining a Planet's Distance from its Star

distance between sun and planet

Drawing on the interactive activities of Astro Venture in which students in grades 5-8 role play NASA occupations as they search for and build a planet that would be habitable to humans. This event looked at the need for liquid water and how star type and the planet's orbital distance are two interrelated requirements for the presence of water. The event also looked at methods that scientists use to determine a star's type and the orbital distance of a planet orbiting a star.

Astrophysicist Yvonne Pendelton and NASA Project Scientist Michael Kaufman were on hand to answer questions.

Yvonne Pendleton
Michael Kaufman

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Read the Transcript

Preparation

The Astronomy portion of Astro-venture is relevant to this webcast. In particular it would be most helpful to review Step 1 of the Mission and Step 4. You may want to refer to the following images prior to the webcast:

Some of the relevant Astronomy lessons on Astroventure include:

Part 3 Lesson 8-Explains the Sun's wobble.

Lesson 9 Planetary Temperature System deals with both star type and Habitable Zone.

Additional Resources:

The Astronomy Training

The Kepler Mission

The Hubble Space Telescope

NASA Ames Astrobiology

NASA Astrobiology Institute

Live from the Hubble Space Telescope


The Search for Extra-Solar Planets

Doppler Shift: Giant Planets Detected from Beyond our Solar System

red shift

Drawing on the interactive activities of Astro Venture in which students in grades 5-8 role play NASA occupations as they search for and build a planet that would be habitable to humans, this event shows how Doppler Shift has been used to detect large extra-solar planets and how photometry is being proposed for detecting Earth-size planets.

Ed Prather and Dawn McIntosh were on hand to answer your questions.

Ed Prather
Dawn McIntosh

View the Archive

Preparation

The Astronomy portion of Astroventure is relevant to this webcast. In particular it would be most helpful to review Step 2 of the Mission and Step 3.

Some of the relevant Astronomy lessons on Astroventure include:

Part 3

Lesson 10 and 11 help to understand why Earth needs to be a certain mass. This is relevant to Photometry.

Lesson 12 explains why Jupiter in the wrong orbit would change Earth's habitability. The relates to the Doppler shift.

Additional Resources:

The Astronomy Training

The Kepler Mission - The process of photometry described in the Astronomy Mission of Astroventure, is used to detect Earth-size planets. Photometry has been proposed for the Kepler Mission, which will explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems.

The Hubble Space Telescope - "Like a well-oiled machine, Hubble's optics, science instruments, and spacecraft systems work together to capture light from the cosmos, convert it into digital data, and transmit it back to Earth." STScI     

NASA Ames Astrobiology - "Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe. It provides a biological perspective to many areas of NASA research, linking such endeavors as the search for habitable planets, exploration missions to Mars and Europa, efforts to understand the origin of life, and planning for the future of life beyond Earth."

NASA Astrobiology Institute -"The Space Science Division at NASA Ames Research Center is dedicated to research in astrophysics, exobiology, advanced life support technologies, and planetary science. These research programs are structured around Astrobiology (the study of life in the universe and the chemical and physical forces and adaptations that influence life's origin, evolution, and destiny), and address some of the most fundamental questions pursued by science."

Live from the Hubble Space Telescope - The planets Neptune and Pluto were selected as targets for original observations by students who served as Hubble Space Telescope (HST) "CO-Investigators", working alongside some of America's foremost astronomers.

Giant Planets Orbiting Faraway Stars - Geoff Marcy and other research groups using Doppler shift have found over 70 planets outside our solar system. Most of these are the size of Jupiter or Saturn. These have been detected using Doppler Shift which only works to find large planets.

Terrestrial Planet Finder - This mission will combine the high sensitivity of space telescopes with the sharply detailed pictures from an interferometer. This technique will allow astronomers to see solar systems as far as 50 light years away.

Planet Quest - Over the next 15 years, NASA is embarking on a bold series of missions to find and characterize new worlds. These will be the most sensitive instruments ever built, capable of reaching beyond the bounds of our own solar system.

Large Binocular Telescope - Because of its binocular arrangement, the telescope will have a resolving power (ultimate image sharpness) corresponding to a 22.8-meter telescope.

Space Interferometry Mission - SIM will use optical interferometry. Scheduled for launch in 2009, will determine the positions and distances of stars several hundred times more accurately than any previous program. This accuracy will allow SIM to determine the distances to stars throughout the Galaxy and to probe nearby stars for Earth-sized planets.

Next Generation Space Telescope - This is a powerful space telescope that will replace the highly successful Hubble Space Telescope (HST) when it retires near the end of this decade. Scheduled for launch in 2009, the telescope will carry cameras and spectrographs sensitive to infrared radiation. Over the telescope's 5-10 year lifetime astronomers hope to observe the farthest reaches of the universe.

 
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