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For Teachers

MESSENGER Education Module: Mission Design

Mission Design is intended to provide an overarching framework for discussing exploration in general. The Module places space exploration in the greater context of the history of human exploration, and allows the students to investigate how scientists and engineers today plan missions to study worlds in the Solar System and extend their exploration even further in the Universe.

The Module unfolds as a story in three chapters, with each chapter asking a question which is addressed in the corresponding lesson. The grades 5-8 lessons address the questions in a broad manner to provide a comprehensive discussion of the Module’s basic themes. The grades 9-12 lessons focus on specific aspects of the central questions, in this manner allowing exploration of concepts at a depth suitable for high school. The grades 5-8 lessons can be easily adapted for high school to allow for a broader exploration of the relevant concepts before proceeding to the more targeted explorations of the high school lessons.

Click on the titles below to find an overview and downloadable versions of the lessons. Note that the overview and lessons are in PDF format, so you need Adobe Reader to view the documents.

Introduction to the Mission Design Education Module

  Chapter 1: Why do we want to explore unknown environments? Chapter 2: How can we plan our exploration? Chapter 3: What do we do during our exploration?
Grades Lessons
5-8 Exploring Exploring Mission: Possible—How Can We Plan an Exploration of Another World? Look But Don’t Touch—Exploration with Remote Sensing
9-12 Exploring Solar Systems Across the Universe Give Me a Boost—How Gravity Assists Aid Space Exploration Can You Hear Me Now?—Communicating with Spacecraft

Full Module as a single PDF file (13 MB)

Mission Design was developed by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education