Mars for Earthlings > Teaching Modules

Teaching Modules

The lesson modules below are designed for use in an undergraduate classroom and include teaching materials including details and handouts for in-class activities and homework. The menu to the left can be used to navigate between each module.

The compiled instructor and student versions of the 23 modules can be downloaded here:

Compiled Teaching Modules Instructor Version (Acrobat (PDF) 9MB Feb18 16)

Compiled Teaching Modules Student Version (Acrobat (PDF) 7.5MB Feb18 16)

Module 1- Welcome to Earth and Mars

This introduction will expose students to Mars imaging software platforms so that students may become familiar with their navigation and imagery products.

Module 2- Birth of Planets

This learning module and related laboratory exercise exposes students to Solar Nebular Theory, planetary body classification, and planet differentiation. Students will be able to compare and contrast the formation history of Mars and Earth as well as confidently assess the present classification of the planet Pluto.

Module 3- Views and Missions in Space

This learning module compares early and recent missions to Mars as well as familiarizes students with a common instrument used in NASA mission payloads.

Module 4- Remote Sensing Mars

This learning module and related laboratory exercise exposes students to remote sensing techniques utilized on Mars.

Module 5- Building Blocks: Matter and Minerals

This learning module and related laboratory exercise exposes students to the make-up of minerals on both Earth and Mars, as well as encourages students to determine what minerals imply an aqueous environment of formation.

Module 6- Igneous Rocks & Volcanics

This learning module and related laboratory exercise exposes students to volcanic styles, eruptions, igneous rock textures and their evidence in the Martian landscape.

Module 7- Life-Hosting Rocks

This learning module and related laboratory exercise exposes students to the types of lithologies on Earth that host life and the sedimentary processes that formed them.

Module 8- Rock Evolution and Change

Students will be exposed to the processes of metamorphism and diagenesis on Earth and determine which processes are dominant on Mars. Are diagenetic processes on Earth mirrored on Mars?

Module 9- Active Interior and Crustal Change

Students will become familiar with the theory of plate tectonics on Earth and evaluate the possibility of plate tectonics on Mars using the evidence (continental puzzle, faunal correlation, magnetic reversals etc.) utilized on Earth to support plate tectonic theory.

Module 10- Meteorites and Impact Craters

This learning module exposes students to the formation of impact craters and what differentiates a meteorite from other rocks on Earth.

Module 11- Age and Times of Mars vs Earth

This learning module discusses the geologic history of the Earth, the principles scientists use to define the Earth's geologic history, and relative dating techniques.

Module 12- Surface Sculpting Waters

This learning module and related laboratory exercise exposes students to surface water erosion due to rivers and deltas and their evidence on the Martian landscape. Students will use modern analogs to assess the hypothesis that both rivers and deltas existed on Mars.

Module 13- Water Underneath: Groundwater

A learning module for incorporation in to Earth science courses that exposes students to the influence of groundwater and on the surface of Mars.

Module 14- Water World: Large Waterbodies

It is hypothesized that an ocean on Mars might have existed. Students will learn what sedimentary structures of Earth, marine environments in the ancient look like and the processes that formed them. From this earth-analog approach students will observe Mars imagery and determine whether or not a Mars ocean might have existed in the distant past.

Module 15- Ice Ages and Climate Dynamics

This module discusses the causes of ice ages on Earth and explores whether or not Mars experiences similar climate dynamics as Earth.

Module 16- Weathering and Soils

This learning module exposes students to the patterns and drivers of weathering and the formation of soils on Earth and Mars.

Module 17- Vast Deserts on Mars

Using a Sandbox experiment and Google Earth students will study the formation of dunes and relate their observations to Mars dune field imagery.

Module 18- Origin of Life

This module explores various hypotheses concerning the origins of life on planet Earth and their plausibility when applied to Mars.

Module 19- Extremophiles

This learning module and related laboratory exercise exposes students to extremophiles, their habitats, and the potential to find habitable environments on Mars.

Module 20- ET in the Universe

This learning module and related in‐class activity is meant to expose students to the SETI program.

Module 21- Missions Outside our Solar System

This learning module is meant for adaptation into any course wishing to introduce students to planets outside Earth's solar system. Students will learn about the 'habitable zone' and apply techniques used to find planets outside our solar system.

Module 22- Future Mars Missions and Societal Issues

This learning module and related exercises will expose students the issues of space exploration and the other NASA-partnering agencies and institutions as well as private companies engaged in space-related technology.

Module 23- Project Mission to Mars

The goal of this module is to expose students to the process of planning a space exploration mission. It discusses mission aspects such as mission science goals, mission design and funding, and public outreach.

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