Space Exploration Science Projects (32 results)

Space exploration is an exciting and wide-ranging area. Getting into space (and back down) is hard, involving rockets and launch vehicles, satellites, spacecraft, re-entry systems, landers and rovers, robots, and orbital mechanics, not to mention hypothetical technologies like space elevators and artificial gravity. To survive and thrive in space, we must understand many additional issues such as human performance in space, the space economy, and the science of astronomical bodies.

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The first man-made satellite, the Sputnik 1, was launched in 1957. As of late 2020, more than 2,600 man-made satellites orbit Earth, with a little over 70% of them in low Earth orbit. If you would like to delve into how satellites and their sensors are configured, or into how their orbits are planned—and do not shy away from a little programming—this project is for you! With the help of FreeFlyer®—powerful software that allows you to simulate satellite orbit and… Read more
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The idea of a colony on Mars is exciting! In this science project, you will tackle one of the challenges a Martian colony will face: what will buildings on Mars be made of? In this project, you will make bricks from Martian-like ground cover and measure how strong these bricks are. Read more
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The movement of satellites is intriguing, but how do they orbit the way they do? Aerospace engineers run calculations and set up computer models to help them predict how satellites move in space, but in this astronomy science project, you will create a physical model with marbles, clay, and a cookie sheet to help you study how satellites move in space and learn from your observations. Read more
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Rocket design and operation is a fascinating field and analyzing the flight path provides insight into the rocket's performance. In this project, you will take measurements of the flight path to evaluate how a change in the rocket design or launch procedure impacts the rocket's performance. Initially, while the bottle rocket expels water (or the rocket expels exhaust), the rocket gets a boost. This push is referred to as thrust and projects the rocket forward. Earth's gravity pulls the… Read more
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How do astronomers collect stardust? They design and build satellites that are launched into space to collect particles on specially designed panels. Satellites can be sent to orbit around an object of interest: a planet, moon, or comet. In this experiment, you can build your own mini satellite and use it to collect some pretend stellar debris. If you simulate an asteroid impact, how much stellar dust will your satellite collect? Will placing your satellite at different "orbital" distances from… Read more
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What does it take to launch a robot to Mars or for a satellite to explore our outer solar system? In this project you will explore the physics of a rocket as you predict its performance, launch it, and measure the actual results. This is rocket science! Read more
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If you are interested in space travel and willing to do some coding, this project is for you! It uses FreeFlyer®—powerful software that allows you to simulate space travel—to explore essential mission questions. Space travel is complex. Many factors influence the trajectory of a spacecraft. Simulations like the ones generated by FreeFlyer are powerful, as they allow you to analyze each factor in isolation, and then visualize the effects in various ways. Once you familiarize… Read more
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Light sensors are part of many devices that we use every day. For example, they help your phone know when to automatically brighten or dim the screen based on ambient light levels. They can also be used to help solar panels track the sun, which helps the panels generate more power. Many spacecraft and planetary rovers (like the Mars rovers Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity) are solar-powered. In this project you will build and program your own solar-tracking robot. Optionally, you can add… Read more
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Can you imagine designing and building a space telescope the size of a tennis court? Believe it or not, that is someone's job! Engineers are hard at work on the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST. This telescope has the potential to enable astronomers to see light from when the Universe was first formed. No one knows what amazing discoveries this might lead to. However, to make the telescope work properly, engineers have to overcome a lot of challenges. In this science project, you can… Read more
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Scientists have known for hundreds of years that sunspot activity waxes and wanes over a cycle that lasts approximately 11 years. In the 1970's, scientists discovered that the sun periodically blasts electrified gases into space, in huge outbursts called 'coronal mass ejections,' or CMEs. This project asks the question: do CMEs follow the solar sunspot cycle? Read more
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