|Mission to Mars TA Outline
Welcome students to the planetarium and review no food/drink rules.
Give a 30 second introduction to the lab and the show they are about to see.
Start the Mars Show.
Part I Societal Aspects
Read the first two questions with the students.
Inform them that NASA currently spends about $200 million a year on Mars missions. A manned trip to Mars is expected to cost about $200 billion. Should we increase spending? Decrease? To what amount? Instruct them to justify their answer in the space provided and that they will be graded poorly if they answer in just a few lines.
For the second question remind students of the huge problems and delays in the International Space Station due to Russia lack of funding. Ask, “Should we go fast and cheap by ourselves or promote world peace and go with others despite the cost and delays?”
Give them about 10 minutes to respond to the two questions.
Pro: What if we discover that there was life on Mars in the past and how it became extinct there. This could help prevent a repeat here.
We could learn a lot about the weather here on Earth by studying weather there.
We might find present life forms on Mars below the surface in water deposits.
We might find new minerals or useful materials that could improve our lives here.
The money spent going will produce many new ‘space age’ products from the research dollars. Things we can’t even dream of
Government is very good at accomplishing science/military goals with its money. They can build a better bomb, go to the moon, get cool pictures with HST. Government spends most of its money on social programs like Social Security and Welfare that don’t work. Let government go to Mars because they can do it well. Better then wasting more money on other programs that are better left to social groups that receive government funding.
WE ARE ALIVE! Live spreads out and tries to survive because it is alive. We must do the same and reach out to Mars.
Con: It’s just a dead rock! Why go to another dead rock! Save the money.
Going to Mars is nothing but a huge ego trip for the enlightened. It does not benefit the average person on the street and is a waste of money.
Think of all the poor and sick people here. Couldn’t that $200 billion be spent a little better?
We have already messed up this planet environmentally, why mess up Mars when we can’t even learn to fix our own yet.
There is no race against the Russians, no reason to go.
If there should be a mission at all, let robots go. They are cheaper and don’t need all the special things people do. Spend money wisely. People don’t have to go.
We could never live on Mars, it is too cold and has bad air. So there is no point in going for the LIFE reason. We can not reach out and live there, so just don’t go.
Lets go, but not this century. Focus on problems here. We can always go later, just not spend any more money now.
ead a class discussion as to the pros and cons of each question. Try to talk as little as possible and facilitate discussion among the students. If one side of the argument is not doing well or has little support in the class then play devil’s advocate. The following are some points for both sides to help play devil’s advocate.
Part II Orbital and Escape Velocity. Pretty simple stuff.
Dim the lights and show them the Solar System in Digistar (Digi L1,B1)
Point out that the planets orbit the sun. Orbit is natural motion of an object in space.
The closer a planet is to the sun, the faster it orbits.
Don’t stop and reset digi, just turn off the beam and up the lights
Let them read directions and answer the five questions. Give help as needed.
The focus here is what it takes to get off the Earth. Answer is orbiting!
Part III Earth to Mars trajectory
Dim the lights and show the Solar System and ask how do we get to Mars?
Open the lens cover and turn on the beam.
Can we take a straight path? Just aim for in and go? What kind of orbit shall we take?
What will the shape of the orbit be? Answer: Ellipse.
We want to use as little energy as possible, so we make the perihelion of our orbit at Earth and the apahelion of our orbit at Mars.
Show both launch window routines. (Digi L1, B2-B3) Talk about the routines as you go.
Stop and reset and bring up the lights.
Let them read the instruction for part 3 and draw on the diagram. Help as needed.
Main point here is that you travel in a Keplarian orbit using as little energy as possible.
Part IV Arrival at Mars
Dim the lights and bring up the MGS slides in Netscape on the Dome.
To access these look in bookmarks, then the Mars Lab folder.
Focus on the slides that discuss aerobraking.
The main point is that aerobraking first changes the orbit from being around the sun to being around Mars. Then aerobraking lowers the orbit of the craft by slowing it so that is has less energy of motion, or kenetic energy.
Bring up the lights and dim the projector.
Let them fill out 4a through 4c. Help them as necessary, especially on the math.
Part V Exploring Mars
Discuss briefly what kinds of things they need to take into account in order to survive and work once they arrive on Mars.
Bring up the Pathfinder slides of being on Mars.
It looks like you could just walk out onto the surface. It looks like west Texas! Could you? If not what things would you have to account for?
Let them fill out part V and then they may leave.