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For Teachers

MESSENGER Education Modules:
The Scientific Process in Action

These Modules explore the scientific process as applied to solving engineering and design problems within a context of constraints, and to exploring a phenomenon of nature by asking a question of that phenomenon, framing experimental pathways to acquire data, and interpreting that data in the context of a greater body of knowledge.

staying cool
Staying Cool

messenger spacecraft
Mission Design

Staying Cool

The Staying Cool education unit explores the basic concepts of light, heat, and energy to investigate how spacecraft such as MESSENGER can study planets using light and radiation without being damaged by the harsh high-temperature, high-radiation environment in which they have to operate. The unit can be told as a story in three chapters. Each chapter asks a question which is addressed in the corresponding lesson. Click on the titles below to find an overview and downloadable version of the lesson.

Introduction to the Staying Cool Education Module

  How can we study Mercury? Are there any problems we might face? Are there ways to solve these problems? Design Challenges
Grades Lessons
Pre-K-4 Sensing Energy   Cooler in the Shadows Design Challenge: What will keep my lunchbox cool?
Design Challenge: How do you keep things from getting too hot?
5-8 Sensing the Invisible: The Herschel Experiment Snow Goggles and Limiting Sunlight My Angle on Cooling—Effect of Distance and Inclination Design Challenge: How to keep gelatin from melting
9-12 Star Power! Discovering the Power of Sunlight Dangers of Radiation Exposure Cooling with Sunshades Design Challenge: How to keep items cool in boiling water

Staying Cool was developed by the Carnegie Institution of Washington Carnegie Academy for Science Education (grade level preK-1 and 2-4 components), and the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (grade level 5-8 and 9-12 components.)



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