60mom-logo-150px L2

Searching for evidence of life on Mars

A lesson to guide your class to investigate how to look for evidence that Mars may have once had environments that could have sustained life.

You will need:

  • 40-60 minutes
  • Samples (or imagery) of rocks or formations formed by the action and processes of water (sedimentary rocks, fossils, layered rocks, erosion, hematite)
  • Rocks, landforms and early life activity sheet
  • Class access to the Mars Yard Maps application
  • Mars Yard 3D view handout

WHAT TO DO:

1. Create a collage: life in unusual places

As a class, examine and discuss the various images and articles everyone has brought in (homework from L1). Create a collage of these items where everyone can see it. Discuss some of the common features, forms and elements.

3. Examine the photographs and samples

Place photographs and rock and mineral samples (particularly sedimentary and igneous) in stations around the room. Have mission teams examine the items and describe the characteristics and to propose how the substances may have been formed.

4. Team activity: rocks, landforms and early life

With reference to the samples they have examined, have mission teams prepare a brief report on at least one geological land form, one rock or mineral and one early life form.

Have the rocks, landforms and early life activity sheet available for teams that may wish to use it.

5. Now look at the surface of Mars again

Review the images of the Mars surface from L1 and ask:

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA17081.jpgMars surfacehttp://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA17083.jpg

Can we see any of these kinds of features, structures or formations on the surface of Mars?

6. Look at the surface of the Mars Yard

Now assist the class to examine the surface of the Mars Yard.  Viewing the Mars Yard surface can be done using the Mars Yard Maps application or the Mars Yard 3d view shown here.

3D rendered view of the Mars Yard

3D rendered view of the Mars Yard

While viewing the Mars Yard, ask:

Can we see any of these kinds of features, structures or formations on the Mars Yard surface?

It is important here that you do not tell your class exactly what they are looking at or  indicate whether they are correct or incorrect. Instead simply encourage their questioning about what they see. Confirmation of their theories and suggestions can wait until during and after they have explored the surface with the rover. 

7. Mission teams select and justify sites of interest

Have each mission team select at least one site on the Mars Yard surface that is of interest to them and that they believe is worth investigating with the rover.
Then allow teams to access the Mars Yard Maps application to explore the surface and to add pins to document and explain their site of interest. End of section

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