Remote Sensing Beta Test – Science Context-Setting Activity: How Do Scientists and Engineers Work Together on NASA Missions?

Remote Sensing - Engineering P2 Front

Activity Timing

5 min. Introduction
25 min. Video and Card Game
5 min. Reflect

35 min. Total

Prep Snapshot

Prep Time: 30 min 

Take time to read the front matter of the Educator Guide and the Science Background Knowledge (optional) 

PS1 Educator Guide

PS1 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.


Engineering: the use of creativity and knowledge of math and science to design things that solve problems 

NASA: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 

Remote: far away or distant 

Remote sensing: collecting information at a distance 

Sensing: collecting or becoming aware of information 

Technology: an object, system, or process designed by people to solve a problem 

Remote Sensing Science Vocab List

21st Century Skills Connection

Collaboration, Critical Thinking

Science Practices

  •  Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.

Activity Overview

Youth learn about the ways that scientists and engineers rely on each other during NASA missions by watching a video and discussing some of the ways in which scientific studies help to drive and inspire engineering designs. Youth learn that this NASA challenge is to choose the best Mars landing site for a rover.

Guiding Question

How do scientists and engineers work together on a NASA mission to learn about another planet without going there? 

Youth Will Do

  • Draw connections between questions asked by scientists and those asked by engineers. 

Youth Will Know

  • On NASA missions, engineers design technologies to help planetary scientists gather data to answer their questions. 
  • Remote sensing technologies gather data from a distance. 
  • They have a NASA science challenge to solve.

Videos Related to this Activity

Family Connections Story Prompt

Can you tell me a story about a technology or tool that made a big difference in your life?

Additional Resources

Connecting Across Activities

  • In this Activity, youth explore how scientists and engineers work together and they learn their task for the rest of the Activities: to interpret remotely sensed data to choose the best landing site on Mars to search for evidence of water.
  • In Science Activity 1, they explore landforms and use visual data to think about different landing sites on Mars.