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Create Your Own Solar System
Read the article “Two new Earths and the search for life” - CNN.com

New Haven, Connecticut (CNN) -- Americans were enthralled by fake reports of an alien invasion in the Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast on Halloween Eve in 1938. Hundreds of science fiction movies from the 1902 silent epic "A Trip to the Moon" (featured in the current film "Hugo") to "Star Wars" to this year's "Cowboys and Aliens" have fed a deep curiosity about intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe.

Hang on to your hats, because reality is starting to catch up.

On Tuesday, scientists reported evidence from the Kepler satellite that two Earth-sized planets are orbiting a nearby star about 1,000 light years from earth -- practically our back yard compared to the extent of our Milky Galaxy, but far too distant to visit with current spacecraft.

These planets, named Kepler 20-e and Kepler 20-f, have sizes and masses similar to the Earth, and their host star is similar to our sun. But the resemblance ends there. Both orbit very rapidly -- in 6.1 days and 19.6 days, respectively, compared to 365 days for an Earth year -- so both are much closer to their star than the Earth is to the sun.

This makes both planets way too hot to support life as we know it. Still, the pace of planet discovery is astonishing. Sometime in the next few years, scientists will likely discover Earth-like planets that are capable of supporting life.

Our sun is just one star among the hundreds of billions that make up the Milky Way galaxy, which itself is only one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. Over the last 15 years, astronomers have found hundreds of planets orbiting stars in our corner of the Milky Way and the list will pass 1,000 next year.

Planets are plentiful. Discoveries of planets are limited only by the capabilities of current telescopes and instruments and by the time needed to sample several full orbits of a planet around its host star.


This chart compares the first Earth-size planets found around a sun-like star to planets in our own solar system.

The Assignment – NASA scientists have instructed you to create a solar system around one of these newly found planets. You may create a book, similar to your textbook, with one object in YOUR solar system on each page. Describe the characteristics, names, and important facts (listed below) about each of the objects, starting with the Star at the center of the solar system. Use our solar system as a model, but think creatively using science FACT as your basis for the formation of your ideas. Create a diagram or model of your solar system to show the relative positions of these objects compared to its star. Consider relative sizes of planets when making this model.
Here are some of the items to include about each object:

  • Name of objects in the solar system

  • Distance from the Star

  • Surface temperature range

  • Orbital period (length of year in Earth days or years)

  • Rotational period (length of day in Earth hours or days)

  • Main components of the atmosphere

  • Gravity (strength of the gravitational pull)

  • Moons (number, size, and names)

  • Rings (if any)

  • Key attractions (volcanoes, hurricanes, craters, etc.)

  • Any other interesting facts that visitors should be aware of

  • Any objects that are not planets should have data specific to their attributes.


Create Your Own Solar System Rubric

Instructions: Review this rubric prior to beginning work. Use the instructions and this rubric to develop your solar system model. Assess your own work prior to asking the teacher to evaluate it.



Category

Self

Teacher

3

2

1

0

Title &
Your Name








The title can be read clearly and is creative. Name is easily located on the front cover.

The title can be read clearly and describes the content well. Name located on the front cover.

The title can be read clearly but is not creative. Name is on the brochure.

The title is too small and/or does not describe the content of the project well. No name is visible.

Content







At least 10 objects with all facts are displayed for each object in the solar system.

At least 7 objects with several facts are displayed for each object in the solar system.

At least 4 objects with a few facts are displayed for each object in the solar system .

Fewer than 4 objects with no facts are displayed for each object in the solar system .

Graphics







All of the graphics used on the project reflect an exceptional degree of student creativity in the creation and display.

At least 7 of the graphics used to reflect student creativity in the creation and display.

The graphics are made by the student, but are based on the designs or ideas of others.

No graphics made by the student are included.

Attractiveness







The solar system model or diagram is colorful & very attractive in terms of design & layout. Organized neatly & easily read.

The solar system model or diagram is colorful & attractive in terms of design, layout and neatness.

The solar system model or diagram is acceptably attractive though it may be a bit messy.

The solar system model or diagram is distractingly messy or very poorly designed. It is not attractive.

Grammar







There are no grammatical mistakes on the project.

There are 1-4 grammatical mistakes on the project.

There are 5-8 grammatical mistakes on the project.

There are more than 8 grammatical mistakes on the project.

Total points out of a possible 15 points: ________________________________


Comments:

Resource: http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/24/opinion/urry-two-earths/index.html?iref=allsearch

2012 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.





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