Educational Resources about Mars

While we were developing our Exploring Mars science show we stumbled upon lots of free educational online resources. Here are some of our favourites.

Whether you are looking to expand your knowledge, hunting for activity ideas to use in the classroom or just want to quell your curiosity there is bound to be something here for you! 

 


Online Resources

 

Virtual Microscope

The virtual microscope is an interactive online microscope. Through it you can look at high-resolution images of real Martian meteorites that have been used by scientists in the past to study the composition and age of Martian rock.

It acts just like a real microscope allowing you to zoom in on particular features and rotate the specimen. The specimens come with accompanying fact sheets to help you know exactly what you are looking at.

 

 

Google Mars

You may have heard of Google Earth, but did you know that you can switch the location from Earth to Mars by selecting the planet button on the top tool bar?

Google Mars is made up of images of the Martian surface taken by orbiters and sent back to Earth. It is not at pretty as Earth, but hours of fun can be had flying around and seeing what you can find. If you get bored on Mars then why not look at the Moon or event the night sky.

 

 

Faulkes Telescope

The Faulkes Telescope project provides access to a global network of robotic telescopes giving you the chance to capture images of stars, planets and even galaxies.

Their website also has a sections for educational resources which cover far more than just the planet Mars. These are aims at different ages so whether you are a primary school teacher or looking for something for yourself this could be a place worth checking out.

 

 

Down2Earth 

Down2Earth mostly focusses on meteorites and impact craters, however, it also offers ample free teaching resources and tools on the topic of Mars.

Users can start with an introduction to What are impact craters?  before experimenting with the interactive online Impact Simulator on the virtual surface of Mars. This activity is complemented by  downloadable worksheets covering more detail on Measuring Impact Craters on Mars and Impactor Speed.

 

 


Classroom Activities

 

CC BY-SA

Fruit Solar System

This simple activity from the Royal Activity Greenwich helps younger students visualize the scale of  our solar system and the size of the planets within it.

Using mostly fruit, students are encourages to consider which fruit might represent each planet, place them in order of distance from the sun and eventually create a scaled model of the solar system in their classroom.


 Citizen Science: Your Part in Research

 

There are lots of projects out there which are designed to help you get involved in real science and research. Places like Zooniverse and The Open Science Laboratory are a good place to hunt for citizen science projects that might interest you. 

Planet Four project

This world-wide citizen science project is all about the planet Mars.

Users can sign up to view real Mars images and data online and help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the surface of Mars.

Why not join thousands of users worldwide making a contribution to planetary science?

 


Space Agency Websites

If it is the latest news about Mars exploration that you are after, then check out the links below to the individual space agencies themselves. You will find updates on all of their latest missions to Mars and be able to follow them as they explore our neighboring planet. 

European Space Agency

ESA ‘s website contains the latest news about the space missions that they are involved in.

In terms of Mars there are two to watch; The Mars Express mission, which sent an orbiter to image Mars over 10 years ago, and The Exo-Mars mission with its Trace Gas Orbiter measuring the Martian atmosphere and its rover being sent in 2020.

They also have an education section on their website with information about student competitions, workshops and teacher training.

 

UK Space Agency

The UK have a space agency responsible for all strategic decisions in the UK civil space programme. Their blog is a great place to find out what UK planetary scientists are up to and where UK space exploration is heading.

In terms of Mars exploration, the UK Space Agency are involved in ESA’s ExoMars Mission, with Airbus Defense and Space being the lead builder of the rover itself. Many other UK universities are also involved in building the on board instruments.

 

NASA

NASA is probably the most well know space agency in the world. Their website is well organised and full of their lastest news, images and videos.

They have an entire section designated to their exciting goal to send humans to Mars in the 2030’s and don’t forget their Curiosity Rover has been trundling along on Mars since 2012 on a mission to discover whether Mars has ever been able to support microbial life.

 


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