Category Archives: Astronomy

Powers of Ten

The Molecular Expressions Web site at Florida State University has a really cool interactive java tutorial to help get across the concept of orders of magnitude in relation to the relative size of objects in our world and universe:

View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.

In addition, this site has a plethora of information on microscopy, including a microscopy primer, a miscroscopy museum, a photo gallery and even a list of web resources. You an even try virtual microscopy with interactive java tutorials. For example, you can use scanning electron microscopy to get an up close look at a jellyfish or a gecko’s foot under the microscope.

Mission to Mars

The “Mars Exploration Rover” missions will land on Mars in January 2004. NASA has given 13 teams of high school students the chance to help out on various research projects related to the mission. Once the rovers have landed on Mars, these teams (composed of teachers and students) will spend a week at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab learning about Mars and the rovers.

Each of the two rovers that will be landing on Mars carry the “Athena Science Payload.” This set of scientific instruments will help scientists search for evidence of liquid on the planet’s surface. You can learn more about the Athena Project on their web site. The research team posts mission updates which allow you to follow along with their progress. The Athena team has collected a number of different Mars-related classroom activies and made them available on their web site, along with educational resources for teachers.