Are you interested in a journey of discovery? Do the skies above call you? To begin this journey, it is important to know about our solar system. Space exploration is the first phase in space development. The three phases of space development are space exploration, space industrialization, and space settlement. Both private and public organizations are exploring alternatives for citizen space travel and eventually settlement.
Activity 1 – Explore the Solar System
Activity 2 – Your Solar System
You’ve probably seen lots of drawings and diagrams of the solar system. But, to make the drawings fit on a piece of paper, the artists have to draw the planets closer together than they really are. In this activity, you’ll make a scale model of the solar system. You’ll be surprised to see how much bigger some planets are than others, and how far apart some of them are. Compare size of planets to get started.
Make your own scale model of the solar system!
What You’ll Need:
- Ball about 27 inches in diameter (such as a beach ball)
- 5 peas
- 1 orange
- 2 walnuts
- Tape measure
- Large open space
Step 1: Make your model in a large open space that will represent space.
Step 2: Put the beach ball or other large ball at one end of the space. The ball is the sun.
Step 3: Place the other objects as shown in the chart below. (Remember to measure each planet from the sun.)
Planet Object Distance from the Sun Mercury Pea 1-¾ inches Venus Pea 3-¼ inches Earth Pea 4-½ inches Mars Pea 7 inches Jupiter Orange 2 feet Saturn Tangerine 3 feet, 7 inches Uranus Walnut 7 feet, 3 inches Neptune Walnut 11 feet, 4 inches Pluto Pea 14 feet, 10 inches
Activity 3 – The scale of the solar system
To scale the solar system you can first experience it by looking at Scroll the Solar System.. You will see the time and distance between planets. You can make a miniature model of this system by following these instructions. You can then use your school as the sun and then walk distances away from it and place markers for each of the planets with information about the planets. You can draw the planets in their position in chalk, and mark it on a Google Scribble Map for others to seek and enjoy!
Activity 4 – Measure the solar system
In this exercise you will measure the distance between planets in the solar system using your school building as the sun at the center of our solar system. To do this you will need to proportionally scale the distance of each planet from the sun in steps. First research our solar system. Check a chart that presents the planetary distances from the sun. Print or copy the Distance to the sun (in feet) of the Larger Scale Model Chart.datasheet Use the row of distances on the far left. First draw the sun on the front walk of your school; make it app. 77 inches in diameter. Now start walking. Find the position of the planet Mercury 266 steps from the front steps of your school. (Each step represents 50,653 miles/sheet). Draw mercury at 0.267” or approximately ¼” in diameter! Next, subtract the calibrated distance of the next planet, Venus, from the sun from the distance Mercury is from the sun. (498-266 = 232). Take 232 more steps and draw the planet Venus. Venus should be 0.664 inches or app. ¾” in diameter. Repeat this process moving to the planet earth which is 688 steps- 498 steps = 190 steps further to our very own planet earth! Draw earth at 0.699 or app. ¾” in size. Work you way to the outer edges of the solar system.
Think cosmic scale!
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- NASA Citizen Science in Space
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- NASA Explore Stars in the Solar System
- NASA Exploring the Lunar Surface pdf
- NASA Measuring the Orbits of Planets
- NASA Planet Quest
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- NASA's Explore the Solar System Game
- NASA SS Math Adventures pdf
- NASA's Space Place
- PHET Interactive Simulations - Planets, Orbits & Gravity Oh My!
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