Cloud chamber – radioactivity in a cosmic setting

Brief description: Cloud chambers are boxes specially made to detect charged particles and radiation. In this activity, a cloud chamber is used to observe alpha and beta particles, the charged products of the radioactive decay of thorium-232. Students should already have been introduced to the concept of radioactive decay and the differences between alpha and […]

Power from Sunlight – Powering space exploration with solar energy

Brief description: In this set of activities, students will learn about two concepts that influence solar panel design for space missions: the inverse square law and the angle of incidence. Students will perform two simple investigations using a photovoltaic cell (solar cell) and a light source. First, they will measure how the power produced by […]

Exoplanet in a box – Modelling exoplanet transits

Brief description: During these activities, students will work in small groups to model the transit of an exoplanet in front of its host star using an ‘exoplanet in a box’, and plot a light curve for this transit. Students will develop their own experiment: they will decide which variables to measure, what parameters to keep […]

Exoplanets in Motion – Building your own exoplanetary system

Brief description: In this set of activities, students will learn how scientists study exoplanets with satellites like Cheops (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite), using the transit method. Students will build their own model exoplanetary system, then observe and interpret model light curves. Assembly instructions for three different transit models are provided: turntable (simple), rover (intermediate) and 3D […]

Exoplanets Detective – Characterising exoplanetary systems

Brief description: In this set of activities students will learn how scientists study exoplanets with telescopes, using the transit method. Students will characterise exoplanets using model and real satellite light curves data from ESA’s satellite Cheops (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite). They will practice data plotting and interpretation, and scaling of graphs in the context of exoplanet […]

Space Bears – Lab-experience with Tardigrades

Brief description: In this set of experimental activities, students will investigate the survival abilities of tardigrades, also known as water bears. They will expose conditions and come to a conclusion about which environments they can survive in. The aim of this resource is to test tardigrades’ resilience to extreme environmental conditions and link their survival […]

Cooking a comet – ingredients for life

Brief description: In this activity, teachers and students simulate a comet nucleus in the classroom. Comets are considered to be time capsules containing information about the conditions of the early Solar System. The ingredients used accurately represent an analogue of the material found in a real comet nucleus, as discovered using spectroscopy combined with the […]

Marble-ous Ellipses – Speed and time of orbiting bodies

Brief description: In this activity, students will use an elliptical board to obtain speed and distance measurements for an object in an elliptical orbit. The results are then plotted on a graph of speed against time in order to understand how gravity effects (or changes) the speed of a planet or a satellite in an […]

Barycentric balls – orbits and the centre of mass

Brief description: In this activity, the principle of moments is applied to rotating systems to demonstrate the concept of a barycentre, or centre of mass, and how objects in orbit around each other move. Students then consolidate this concept by calculating the centre of mass in a number of astronomical contexts. It is recommended that […]

Could life survive in alien environments? – Defining environments suitable for life

Brief description: In this activity, students will consider whether life found in extreme environments on Earth could survive elsewhere in the Solar System. Students will examine the characteristics of different places in the Solar System and then use fact cards of some example extremophiles to hypothesise which they think might be able to survive in […]