Mars Landing Site Selection: An exercise in reading geologic maps and other geologic data sets
Tracy K.P. Gregg,
University at BuffaloAuthor Profile
Students use available Mars data to select the next rover landing sites, given appropriate engineering, geologic and biologic constraints.
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This is designed as a 2 or 3-hr long lab in introductory geology course, replacing the standard "reading geologic maps" lab.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
- Principles of relative dating
- General map reading i.e. north, scales, lat/long
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- To read geologic maps
- To read other forms of spatial data sets
- To correlate these data sets without using a computer
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
- To interpret geologic maps
- To make predictions of what would be found in ground-truthing these maps
Other skills goals for this activity
- Working in groups
Description of the activity/assignment
Upon arrival in the lab, students are designated as an engineer, a biologist, or a geologist. Working in these groups, each group uses available Mars data (including, but not limited to, Mars geologic maps, topography, thermal inertia data) to identify their top three landing sites on the basis of provided criteria. In jig-saw fashion, new groups are generated consisting of one geologist, one engineer, and one geologist. These new groups must agree on their top three landing sites. Finally, the entire class must agree on a landing site.
Determining whether students have met the goals
After selecting their landing site, students are provided with documentation (available on-line) from NASA's landing site selection committees, to see how well the student-selected sites compare with the NASA-selected sites. Each team member grades the team as a whole; each team member also anonymously grades the other individuals in the team.More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 5.1MB Apr26 06)
Found on the poster