As we search for life in the universe, it is essential that we be able to identify the chemical composition of planets and moons both inside and outside our Solar System. Remote sensing is one of the most valuable tools that scientists use to gather information about the composition of distant objects. In this lesson, students discover how remote sensing is used to identify the signatures of life even when the particular life form is not directly observable.
By completing this activity, the learner will:
Activity Page One asks students to investigate the phenomenon we call "the wind" in an effort to understand the process of remote sensing.
Activity Page Two provides students a picture of a satellite gathering images of Earth's surface. Students are then asked to reason about reflected vs. absorbed light.
Activity Page Three introduces students to the concept of emitted light by examining two cases involving visible light.
In Activity Page Four, students are presented a hypothetical situation with two potatoes, one hot and one cold. Students become familiar with the relationship between infrared light and temperature and emitted light within the context of a household kitchen.
Activity Page Five asks students to sketch the line spectra of different chemicals present in various images of Earth.
Activity Page Six presents two false color images of Mars to the students. Students are then asked about the type of information presented in the images and how this relates to the possiblity of life on Mars.
In Activity Page Seven students examine two false color images of Io, a moon of Jupiter. Students are asked to determine the type of information provided in the images and whether or not it suggests the ability for life to exist on the Jovian moon.
Activity Page Eight presents two images of Titan, a moon of Saturn. One image was taken in the visible spectrum and the other in infrared. Students are asked to reason about the information provided and how it pertains to the possibility of life on Titan.
Activity Page Nine asks students to create their own unique remote sensing images.