Activity 3: Where would you land on Mars?

Now that you have selected a crew and decided what to bring on the ship, it is time to think about the red planet itself. In this part of the activity, your teacher will act as a liaison between your Mars team and NASA. After your teacher reads aloud the latest "NASA Press Release", answer the following questions in your small groups.

A. In the press release, many environments and characteristics of Mars were mentioned. Which of these make Mars most attractive as a place to explore? Explain your reasoning in detail.




B. Before performing any mission or experiment, scientists generally have a clearly stated question or objective that they would like to know more about. As a group, decide on a question you would like to explore or answer through your mission to Mars based on the information you learned from the press release. Be careful because pursuing an answer to this question will become the primary focus of your mission. Clearly state your mission question in the space provided.

Mission Question:




C. In order to best pursue an answer to your mission question, where or in what area would you prefer to land on Mars? Explain why you chose this area.




D. What types of experiments or tests will you need to perform on Mars in order to answer your mission question?




E. What kind of equipment would you require to carry out these experiments or tests?




F. Scientists and the general public have always been concerned about the matter of biological contamination between planets. With travel between Earth and other planets, it is possible for various types of material to inadvertently be exchanged between our planet and our neighbors in space and vice versa. When conducting experiments on other planets, it is important to make sure that Earth material of any kind is not "hitching" a ride on our spacecraft, surviving the trip through space, and then being mistakenly "discovered" on Mars through our experiments. How will your team ensure that your test/experiment results are in no way influenced by things from Earth?




G. After traveling the long distance to Mars, your team may discover things they would like to bring back to Earth for further study or may just want to bring back samples. What methods will your team employ to ensure that your Mars samples will not contaminate or harm the environment here on Earth? What kind of system or equipment might you need?




H. Now pretend that your classmates are a team of newspaper reporters. As a group, you need to prepare a detailed description about the important features of your mission that you would present at a press conference in an effort to convince the public that your mission should be funded by NASA. Record your mission description below. Be sure to explain the reasoning behind your choices for who is going, what is being taken on the trip and how you will avoid contamination.

Mission Description:




I. Have each group present their mission description to the class. After each presentation is complete your class should have a discussion and then a vote to determine which group's mission should be funded by NASA.
Provide a brief description of the mission that won and why it was selected.




J. How do you think the knowledge gained from this mission could be useful here on Earth?