5 min. Introduction
15 min. Minerals and Spectroscopy
35 min. Explore Data
5 min. Reflect
60 min. Total
Prep Time: 60 min
At least two days ahead, create tactile spectra graphs and allow them to dry.
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.
21st Century Skills Connections
- Analyzing & Interpreting Data
Youth interpret the spectra of reflected light to identify the water-based minerals at each of four potential landing sites, determining which location on Mars has the most evidence of past water.
How can interpreting mineral data help us choose a landing site on Mars?
Youth Will Do
- Interpret the unique spectral “fingerprints” of different minerals to identify them.
- Apply their knowledge of which minerals are evidence of past water when evaluating landing sites.
Youth Will Know
- Spectroscopy measures how much light of different colors (both visible and invisible) is emitted by or reflected from a material.
- There are many “colors” of light humans can’t see, but engineers build instruments to measure them.
Videos Related to this Activity
Family Connections Story Prompt
Can you tell me a story about identifying parts of nature that were important to you like plants, rocks, minerals, animal tracks, etc?
- NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
- NASA Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM)
- Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum
- Using Light to Find Out What Things Are Made Of (Spectroscopy)
- Science at Home: CD Spectrometer
- Spectroscopy: Reading the Rainbow
Connecting Across Activities
- In Science Activity 2, youth used LiDAR data to examine topography.
- In this Activity, they use another remote sensing technology, spectroscopy, to identify minerals at different landing sites.
- In Science Activity 4, they will use the various kinds of data they have collected to choose a landing site.