DEC Scan Journal : Volume 34 Issue 1
2015 Volume 34, Issue 1 30 Contents Editorial Currents Teaching & learning Research Curriculum support Share this Resource reviews Adaptability As recently demonstrated by Chatswood High School, the materials are also capable of being adapted to a wider range of curriculum, including design, environmental studies, social studies, and sustainability in considering future colonies on Mars that could well occur when today’s students are in their mid to late thirties. While the Mars Lab materials are designed for Australian students, the project has strong interest from overseas with expressions of interest from Hong Kong and the United States. Classes from China have already successfully participated in Project Mars with the secondary aim of improving students’ English language skills. The Mars Lab TV studio is a multi-cast facility enabling full broadcast quality video conference productions in which students are connected with Mars and space-related scientists and other experts NASA has just announced its intention to send humans to mars by the mid-2030s after the highly successful first test of its new Orion spacecraft. There are seven orbiters currently around Mars run by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Indian Space Agency. NASA has two operational rovers on the surface; the large shopping trolley sized Opportunity that spent more than a decade exploring Meridiani Planum, and the car-sized Curiosity that is exploring a five kilometre high mountain in the middle of Gale Crater. The Mars Lab’s connection to NASA The Mars Lab is connected to NASA activities through The Australian Centre for Astrobiology (ACA), which is partnered with the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Members of the ACA are also on NASA astrobiology teams at Arizona State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2020, NASA will send a forerunner rover mission to Mars to prepare for human exploration. One of the seven instrument packages on the rover is led by Australian and former ACA student, Dr Abby Allwood, who now works for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. What is known about Mars? Mars has water locked up in its soil, at least at Gale Crater, and at the poles (particularly the north pole). It also has a dynamic weather system, and the ingredients for past or present microbial activity. The environment at Gale Crater was once habitable and water was present. If humans were on the planet at that time, they probably would have been able to drink the water. Mars is extremely distant from Earth given our current technology. It takes at least 150 days to reach it. A good way to get a feel for this distance is found at this interactive website. What makes Mars special as a context for learning science?
Volume 33 Issue 4
Volume 34 Issue 2