Mars for Earthlings > Lesson Modules > Missions Outside our Solar System

Missions Outside our Solar System

Julia Kahmann-Robinson PhD, University of Utah Department of Geology & Geophysics
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This learning module is meant for adaptation into any course wishing to introduce students to planets outside Earth's solar system. Students will learn and define what the 'habitable zone' means and apply techniques of finding planets outside our solar system.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:
  1. Identify and explain the "habitability zone"
  2. Explain and apply the planet transit technique of detecting planets outside our solar system in the Kepler Mission.
  3. Utilize software programs such as Planet Hunters and the Kepler Exoplanet Transit Hunt sponsored/created by NASA missions.

Context for Use

This learning module, although not steeped in Earth science principles, can be used in any course of instruction where instructors would like to introduce students to planets outside our solar system and the concept of the habitability zone.

Description and Teaching Materials

Compiled In-Class Activities and Homework

In-Class Activity


Teaching Notes and Tips


Methods of assessment are within each individual In-Class Activity and Homework.

References and Resources

  1. Kepler Exoplanet Transit Hunt computer interaction:
  2. Kepler Mission NASA overview You Tube:
  3. Orrery suggestions for building:
  4. Planet Hunters: