Remote Sensing Beta Test – Science Activity 1: Introducing Mars and Remote Sensing

Remote Sensing: Activity – Science S1 card front

Activity Timing

10 min. Reminder of the Goal
30 min. Explore Landforms
20 min. Search for Evidence of Water
10 min. Reflect

70 min. Total

Prep Snapshot

Prep Time: 60 min 

  • As needed, dry sand the day before. 
  • Set up Water and Wind Stations. 
  • Print resources. 

S1 Educator Guide

S1 Landforms Handout

S1 Landing Site Ovals

S1 Data Packet

S1 Science Notebook

This snapshot intended for quick reminders and is not a replacement of the guide. Be sure to use the guide for detailed preparation instructions and implementation scripts.


CTX: Context Camera, a camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 

HiRISE: High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, a camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 

Lander: a non-moving spacecraft for exploring a planet or moon 

Landform: a shape on the surface of a planetary body 

Mars Helicopter: a spacecraft that flies on Mars using spinning rotors 

Orbiter: a spacecraft designed to circle around a planet or moon without landing on it 

Rover: a vehicle for exploring a planet or moon 

Remote Sensing Science Vocab List

21st Century Skills Connection

Critical Thinking

Science Practices

  • Developing & Using Models 
  • Analyzing & Interpreting Data 

Activity Overview

Youth explore how different landforms are formed by wind and water, then examine images of landforms on Mars and Earth to find evidence of water. 

Guiding Question

Which landforms on Mars hold clues about past water? 

Youth Will Do

  • Explore how water and wind create landforms. 
  • Compare landforms on Earth and Mars. 
  • Interpret image data to find safe and scientifically interesting locations. 

Youth Will Learn

  • NASA is interested in learning whether Mars could have once supported life. 
  • Life on Earth depends on water. 
  • NASA spacecraft take pictures of Mars and send the images back to Earth as data. 

Videos Related to this Activity

Additional Resources

Family Connections Story Prompt

  • Can you tell me a story about why water is important to our family?
  • Can you tell me a story about a memory about the water where we live?
  • Can you tell me a story about a landform we live near?

Connecting Across Activities

  • In the Science Context-Setting Activity, youth explored the relationship between scientists and engineers and learned of their task: to choose the best landing site for a Mars rover.
  • In this Activity, youth act as scientists to examine images of landforms on Mars.
  • In Science Activity 2, they will deepen their understanding of landforms by considering topography.