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Could there be life on other planets?
Spaceship Earth Unit | Lesson 8 of 8
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Could there be life on other planets?
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Spaceship Earth Unit | Lesson 8 of 8
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DISCUSS:

What places would YOU visit in our Solar System? What kinds of dangers would you have to protect yourself from?

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DISCUSS:

How would YOU decide which exoplanet to visit FIRST?

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the Exploration and Activity you just completed.
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Activity: Eyes on Exoplanets

NASA’s “Eyes on Exoplanets” will digitally fly you to any star or planet outside our solar system. You can visit over 1,000 planets that scientists have discovered to orbit distant stars. Find out how long it would take you to get to each place if you were to travel by car, jet plane, bullet train, or starship. Turn on the “habitable zone” display to show the region around each star that could potentially support life. Requires a one-time download of the app onto a desktop computer.

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Activity: Exoplanet Travel Bureau

With NASA’s Exoplanet Travel Bureau, you can imagine what it’s like to stand on the surface of far-away planets. Visit their website, and with the click of a button, you can pretend you’re standing on the surface of planets outside our solar system. On TRAPPIST-1d you can see look up at the sky and see six other planets. You can also see what happens when you stand on a planet that has two stars (instead of one) in the solar system.

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Readings

These readings from Newsela are free with registration. They can be adjusted for reading level. Writing prompts and quiz questions are available for most readings.

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Video

Explore the answers to related student questions with these Mystery Science mini-lessons.

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Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Stars & The Solar System
Focus Star Brightness & Habitable Planets
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this lesson, students discover that the Earth is in the “Goldilocks Zone” — a distance from the Sun with the right amount of light and heat for life to exist. In the activity, Star Explorer, students plan a space mission to another planet outside our Solar System based on the amount of heat and light that reaches the planet’s surface. Once students plan their space mission, they will reflect on what our Sun would look like from this far-away planet.

Preview activity

COVID-19 Adaptations
Students can work solo
Digital worksheets available
See our advice below

Students at home
Each student needs a copy of each printout (printed or digital). This activity works best if students can engage in a virtual discussion.
Students at school
Adjust these supply quantities so students can work solo: Print 2x as many worksheets as listed below. This activity works best if students can have discussions (at a safe distance).
Number of students:
Gravity Guru & Spinning Specialist worksheet 15 copies
Mission Plan worksheet 15 copies
Plant Pro worksheet 15 copies
Plant Pro, Water Wizard, and Mission Plan Answer Keys teacher-only resource 1 copy
Starlight Guide worksheet 15 copies
Starlight Guide Answer Key teacher-only resource 1 copy
Water Wizard worksheet 15 copies
Scissors
30 pairs
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work on their own, but this activity works best if each student can engage in debate and discussion with at least one other person.

Check Shading on the Worksheets

The Mission Plan worksheets include greyscale shading that indicates the amount of heat and light that emit from each star of the three solar systems. The correct shading is essential for the activity, so we suggest printing out copies of these worksheets beforehand to ensure that everything prints correctly.

Teacher Tips

The solar systems and stars (Malina, Thea, and Helios) used in the activity are fictional, but they were inspired by real scientific discoveries. If you and your students would like to learn more about real stars and exoplanets that astronomers are investigating, there are several resources in our Extensions section for you to explore.

Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Stars & The Solar System
Focus Star Brightness & Habitable Planets
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