Exoplanets: Teaching kids about Space! - Winston Wright Capstone

          All three of us have an interest in some branch of engineering, more specifically aerospace engineering which is very important in interstellar space science. We aim to gain a better/more in depth understanding of the engineering behind space science (i,e. an in depth look at the lunar landing module). A focus on astronomy gave us a well rounded introduction to the different areas of student we want to pursue after high school. In addition to astronomy we did a lesson oriented completely on Astrobiology which offers an extremely wide variety of sciences to be learned. We most focused on exoplanets (planets that exist outside of our solar system) and what type of technology it would take us to get there. We also focused on the actual term astrobiology, which is a the study of the evolution/future of life in the universe. While helping others who might have interest in some of the lessons we  taught, we also cultivated our own interest in the related sciences.          
           The mini-courses were comprised of both lectures and power-point presentations, with open discussion being the majority of the presentation. Each quarter we turned in a lesson plan to our advisor to show our topic for a certain week. Inquiry and research stem from us looking at real data from missions of the Apollo program, for example or us tracking the status of yet to be determined exoplanets by the Hubble or Kepler telescopes. Collaboration came directly from our interaction with each other and how we choose to present/teach each mini-course lesson. We also took suggestions on what topics want to be discussed the most. Presentation and reflection will both be prevalent in our  end of the year presentation via keynote or powerpoint.

Annotated Bibliography


http://i.space.com/images/i/000/000/467/original/earth-like-planet-100929-02.jpg?1290541923 (image)

Cook, Lynette. earth-like-planet. 2012. space.com, Ca . Web. 30 Jan 2013. <http://i.space.com/images/i/000/000/467/original/earth-like-planet-100929-02.jpg?1290541923 >.

This image helps depict the concept of exoplanets in other solar systems. In the Gliese 581 solar system there are planets that have the potential of being habitable planets. This helps explain the significance of exoplanets and how they can shape our future. Another important fact is that it illustrates the similarities between the artist depicted Gliese 581 planet and Earth. A blue ocean with green land masses. Most people think of Earth from an outside view as a blue sphere with green spots on them. Not all habitable planets have to/will look like Earth, but it would be easier for humans to adjust if the planet was Earthlike.



Barlowe, Wayne, writ. Alien Planet. 2005. Web. 30 Jan 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNLfNe12BKE >.

Alien Planet is a documentary that brilliantly explains the science behind an exoplanet. It actually is pretty futuristic especially with the artificial probes that explore a planet called Darwin IV. It really displays the biological sciences behind a different planetary system. In contrast it also helps paint a picture of how an entire solar system would have to be in order to become another Earth.



Gliese 581. 2011. Herschel Space Observatory, Cardiff. Web. 30 Jan 2013. <http://herschel.cf.ac.uk/results/gliese-581>.

This is an image of compiled data that has been used to make graphic of what Gliese 581 would actually look like as a solar system. It is used in my presentation to compare with the Alpha Centauri system. Gliese 581 is much different from Alpha Centauri and our own solar system because of the large amount of dust that orbits the star. These will be the two star systems that will be used for my part of the minicourse.



Calçada, . Discovery! Earth-Size Alien Planet at Alpha Centauri is Closest Ever Seen. 2012. space.com, Lisbon. Web. 30 Jan 2013. <http://i.space.com/images/i/000/000/467/original/earth-like-planet-100929-02.jpg?1290541923 >.  

This Image that shows an artists depiction and an enhanced image of the star Alpha Centauri. However, this doesn’t show the fact that Alpha Centauri is a binary star system. I will elaborate on this during my mini course week because the students will be split between two groups Gliese 581 and Alpha Centauri. They will have to research facts on the two star systems and which one would be better to send our first probe to. This image helps compare some of the physical differences between Alpha Centauri and Gliese 581.



The Radial Velocity Method . 2007. ESO , La Silla, Chile . Web. 1 Feb 2013. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/ESO_-_The_Radial_Velocity_Method_(by).jpg>.

This image helps explain the radial velocity method that is used to detect exoplanets by astronomers. The image shows the normal light that is given off by a distant star and then the light given off by a star if it was being orbited by a planet. The orbit of the planet tugs at the star making the velocity of the star dip. Astronomers can tell that the velocity is changing periodically because the light of the star will appear blue when the orbit of the planet causes the star to go further and red when the pull of the planet causes the star to shift backwards. The image pretty much shows the doppler effect in contrast to stars and their orbiting planets.



Berry , Dana. White Dwarf Star Spiral . 2008. NASAWeb. 1 Feb 2013. <http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_793.html>.

This is a more common example of a white dwarf binary star system. I’m using this image in order to explain specifically what a binary star system is and how it is important for the study of exoplanets. White dwarf binary star systems are really no use to astronomers and space explorers because they have no relevance to colonizing planets.



"EANA: ESA Exobiology." EANA: ESA Exobiology. European Astrobiology Network Association, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://www.astrobiologia.pl/eana/esaexo.html>.The ESA (Europe Space Agency) gives an introduction into what Exobiology does and what required knowledge there is to know about exobiology, beyond the word "biology". Utilizing many different ways to backtrack or unveil possible extinct life forms from other planets.



Hanger , Scott. "The Future of American Spaceflight." Tulsa : 2012. <http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/human_space/>.

This source depicts the evolution of spaceflight technology and how it will be in the future. It was created in 2009 and was last updated in 2012.



Scalice, Daniella . "Life in The Universe." NASA (2012): n.pag. NASA Astrobiology. Web. 1 Feb 2013. <https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/articles/2012/10/19/the-color-of-an-exoplanet/>.

This shows how the different color of exoplanets can lead to scientist discovering facts about the material content of the planets atmosphere.



"Topic:Exobiology." - Wikiversity. Wikipedia, 30 June 2012. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Topic:Exobiology>.Astrobiology is an idea that's currently in the process. Scientist around the world believe that life is or was present in millions of other planets, however through all of the extensive searching, there's only been few evidence of extra-terrestrial life out there. It's more probable to find remnants of them here on earth still awaiting to be discovered.



"Exobiology: The Search for Life on Mars." Exobiology: The Search of Life on Mars. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://cmex.ihmc.us/sitecat/sitecat2/exobiolo.htm>.Exobiologist looking for answers on how life came to be on Earth. With the belief that it all started with chemical compound on our planet at its infancy that led to self replication. However that being 4.5 billion years in the making, most of the evidence has been wiped away by erosion, therefore looking into Mars for possible evidence, a planet with a thin atmosphere and has suffered less extreme deformation to its surface.