Inquire, Engage, and Explore: The Mars Student Imaging Project
Taking Photos of Mars!
The Inquire, Engage, and Explore: The Mars Student Imaging Project
web seminar, produced in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
and Arizona State University Mars Education Program, was held on Thursday, December
7, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Paige Valderrama
Graff, Assistant Director of the Mars Education and Outreach Program within the
Mars Spaceflight Facility, School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State
University. The presentation focused on the Mars Student Imaging Project. In this
project students use the THEMIS instrument aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft to take images of planet Mars for scientific analysis.
Nineteen (19) participants were present in addition to the presenters and the NSTA
staff. Participating educators represented the states of California, Florida, Maine,
Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Puerto
Rico, and Washington.
In this presentation Paige Valderrama Graff described the Mars Student Imaging Project,
MSIP. This project, designed for middle and high school students, allows participants
to use the THEMIS instrument aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, (currently orbiting
the planet Mars), to take a photo of the Martian surface and do real science. Students
work in teams to craft a proposal indicating the location on Mars (latitude and
longitude) that they would like to photograph and the reasons behind their selection.
When approved, students analyze their image with the assistance of NASA scientists
and their teacher. At the end of the program, all MSIP students and their teacher
receive a copy of their image as a memento of their experience.
Web Seminar participants asked many questions about the MSIP and how to get their
students to participate. Before looking at a few THEMIS images to simulate the work
that MSIP students are tasked to do, Ms. Graff explained that each image is of an
area 18 km wide and that the Sun is always located to the left of the image. With
this information, teachers were able to identify different features, like craters,
gullies, and flood islands, etc, and estimate their sizes. The work students do
in the Mars Student Imaging Project is similar to the work planetary scientists
do to learn more about Mars and the solar system. All participants received a copy
of NSTA's SciGuide about Mars, the Red Planet.
Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
- "The seminar made me aware of a wonderful tool in the study of Mars for classroom
- "We are in the process of updating our Planetary Science Course and including
more up-to-date information for middle school students. This real-world application
is great! The scientific thinking processes involved are perfect for middle school
- "Absolutely wonderful! I was just thinking how I could get my 8th graders interested
in looking at the planets in preparation for the state testing. This is a GREAT
program and I never would have known about it if NSTA hadn't done this web seminar."
- "At first I was unsure about whether or not I would incorporate this program
into my classroom. I will definitely try to incorporate it! My students will be
very engaged in the process of science through this."
Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!
Web Seminar: Mars Student Imaging Project - Resources
See a recorded
version of the Web Seminar.
For more information contact email@example.com
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Underwritten by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory