Subjects & Disciplines
- create a good scientific argument in the context of climate
- explain how scientists use light from distant stars to find planets
- describe the factors scientists look for to determine if life could be possible on distant planets
- explore the probability of scientists finding a habitable planet or moon
- explain how changes in the light coming from a star allow scientists to detect its motion
- describe how planets are found using the wobble method
- describe the effect of planetary mass on a star's wobble
- explain how the angle of a planets' orbit around a star determines whether the planet might be found
- explain how planets can be detected using the transit method
- describe how a planet's diameter affects its ability to be detected via the transit (light-intensity) method
- describe how the tilt (orbiting angle) of a planet affects its ability to be detected via the transit method
- explain how technological advances can result in new scientific discoveries
- describe how matter can absorb and emit light of different frequencies
- interpret visible light emission spectra
- explain how planetary spectra can be used to search for life on other planets
- compare the zone of liquid water possibility around different star types
- describe what conditions make a planet suitable for life
- evaluate solar system characteristics to decide whether a planet is worth further investigating for evidence of life
- Inquiry-based learning
- Multimedia instruction
- Self-directed learning
- Self-paced learning
- Visual instruction
21st Century Student Outcomes
- Information, Media, and Technology Skills
- Learning and Innovation Skills
Critical Thinking Skills
Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices
What You’ll Need
The resources are also available at the top of the page.
- Internet Access: Required
- Internet access: Required
- Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, 1 computer per learner, 1 computer per pair, 1 computer per small group, Interactive whiteboard, Projector
- Computer lab
- Media Center/Library
- Heterogeneous grouping
- Homogeneous grouping
- Large-group instruction
- Small-group instruction
- Elements absorb and emit radiation at distinct frequencies. The pattern of absorption of radiation can give information about the composition of a mixture.
- There are different star classes, categorized by the star's temperature. Hotter stars are brighter and shorter-lived than cooler stars.
Recommended Prior Lessons
irregularly shaped planetary body, ranging from 6 meters (20 feet) to 933 kilometers (580 miles) in diameter, orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter.
layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body.
type of sugar that is an important nutrient for most organisms.
having to do with the sky or heavens.
natural object in space, such as a planet or star. Also called an astronomical object.
to state as the truth.
width of a circle.
our planet, the third from the Sun. The Earth is the only place in the known universe that supports life.
an event where one heavenly body obscures the light of another.
continous band of all kinds of radiation (heat and light).
discharge or release.
data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.
planet outside the solar system, orbiting a star other than the sun. Also called an extrasolar planet.
collection of stars, planets, gases, and other celestial bodies bound together by gravity.
gas in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and ozone, that absorbs solar heat reflected by the surface of the Earth, warming the atmosphere.
suitability to support life.
one of a large group of organic compounds including fats, oils, waxes, sterols, and triglycerides.
state of matter with no fixed shape and molecules that remain loosely bound with each other.
fourth planet from the sun, between Earth and Jupiter.
measure of the amount of matter in a physical object.
chemical compound that is the basic ingredient of natural gas.
natural satellite of a planet.
chemical element with the symbol N, whose gas form is 78% of the Earth's atmosphere.
to move in a circular pattern around a more massive object.
flat space in which a body orbits.
chemical substance that contains the element carbon.
space beyond Earth's atmosphere.
chemical element with the symbol O, whose gas form is 21% of the Earth's atmosphere.
process by which plants turn water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide into water, oxygen, and simple sugars.
large, spherical celestial body that regularly rotates around a star.
one of many complex compounds, made of chains of amino acids, that make up the majority of all cellular structures and are necessary for biological processes.
the sun and the planets, asteroids, comets, and other bodies that orbit around it.
machine that transcribes sound waves into visible lines.
science of the measurement of light that is reflected, absorbed, or emitted by different materials.
large ball of gas and plasma that radiates energy through nuclear fusion, such as the sun.
scientific instrument that uses mirrors to view distant objects.
all known matter, energy, and space.
measurement of the rate and direction of change in the position of an object.
planet in the solar system, second from the sun.
molecules of liquid water suspended in the air.
For Further Exploration
Articles & Profiles
- National Geographic: Article: Looking for Life
- Wikipedia: Doppler spectroscopy
- National Geographic: This Day in Geographic History: November 27, 2001 Atmosphere on Extrasolar Planet Detected
- Wikipedia: Astrobiology
- National Geographic: Encyclopedic Entry: Orbit
- Wikipedia: Methods of Detecting Exoplanets
- National Geographic: Encyclopedic Entry: Planet
- Habitable Zone - NASA Quest!
- National Geogarphic: Encyclopedic Entry: atmosphere