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STANDARDS

CCSS: 8.EE.A.3, MP6, MP7, MP8

TEKS: 8.2C

Next Stop: Mars

The most advanced rover ever sent to the Red Planet will hunt for traces of past life

NASA/JPL/Caltech

Does life exist on other planets? Humans have been asking this question for centuries. We might soon have an answer—thanks to a new rover landing on Mars this month! Called Perseverance, it’s the fifth member of NASA’s rover family to cruise around on the Red Planet.

Does life exist on other planets? Humans have asked this question for centuries. Soon we might finally have an answer. That’s because a new rover is landing on Mars this month! The rover is called Perseverance. It will be the fifth NASA rover to cruise around the Red Planet.

“Mars today is a desolate, barren place,” says Katie Stack Morgan, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on the mission.  But billions of years ago, it looked different. The remains of dried-up rivers and deltas are signs that Mars could have once had flowing water and a thicker atmosphere. Both are conditions for life as we know it.

Perseverance is carrying some cutting-edge technology to help identify possible signs of life. It has 23 cameras—the most ever on a rover! There’s also a mini helicopter, called Ingenuity, which will hopefully be the first aircraft to fly on another planet. The rover’s heavy-duty wheels and specialized navigation system will let it go where no rover has gone before: into the Jezero Crater, which scientists believe to be a dried-up river delta that might hold traces of alien life.

“Mars today is a desolate, barren place,” says Katie Stack Morgan. She’s a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who is working on the mission. Billions of years ago, she says, Mars probably looked different. Scientists have observed the remains of dried-up rivers on the planet. Those are signs that Mars could have once had flowing water and a thicker atmosphere. Both are necessary for life as we know it to exist.

Perseverance is carrying some cutting-edge technology to help identify possible signs of life. It has 23 cameras—the most ever on a rover! It’s also bringing a mini helicopter, called Ingenuity. If it works, it will be the first aircraft ever to fly on another planet. The rover also has heavy-duty wheels and a specialized navigation system. These will let it go where no rover has gone before. Its destination: the inside of the Jezero Crater, which scientists believe is a dried-up river delta. That means it might hold traces of alien life.

Answer the following questions about Perseverance and its high-tech tools. Round all the a values in the scientific notation to the nearest tenth. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

Answer the following questions about Perseverance and its high-tech tools. Round all the a values in the scientific notation to the nearest tenth. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

NASA/JPL/Caltech

INGENUITY

This small helicopter caught a ride to Mars aboard Perseverance. Scientists will use it to test powered flight in the Martian atmosphere. Its carbon-fiber blades spin  2,400 times per minute. What is that in scientific notation?

This small helicopter caught a ride to Mars aboard Perseverance. Scientists will use it to test powered flight in the Martian atmosphere. Its carbon-fiber blades spin  2,400 times per minute. What is that in scientific notation?

NASA/JPL/Caltech

SUPERCAM

This camera analyzes soil and rock samples to determine what chemicals they’re made of. It can analyze rocks from 20 feet away! To do this, it uses a laser that beams light waves with a wavelength (distance between peaks) of only 0.000042 inches. What is that in scientific notation?

This camera analyzes soil and rock samples to determine what chemicals they’re made of. It can analyze rocks from 20 feet away! To do this, it uses a laser that beams light waves with a wavelength (distance between peaks) of only 0.000042 inches. What is that in scientific notation?

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL

JEZERO CRATER

These colored areas show minerals and sediments scientists think were created by water.

Perseverance will explore the Jezero Crater, which scientists believe was once home to a lake and a river delta. The crater is about 147,840 feet in diameter. What’s that in scientific notation?

Perseverance will explore the Jezero Crater, which scientists believe was once home to a lake and a river delta. The crater is about 147,840 feet in diameter. What’s that in scientific notation?

NASA/JPL/Caltech

PIXL

Another analysis tool is the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry, or PIXL. It identifies elements at a supersmall scale and takes up-close photos of the texture of rocks and soil. Its sensitive X-rays can find traces of elements that make up only 0.000001 of a rock or dust sample. What is that in scientific notation?

Another analysis tool is the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry, or PIXL. It identifies elements at a supersmall scale and takes up-close photos of the texture of rocks and soil. Its sensitive X-rays can find traces of elements that make up only 0.000001 of a rock or dust sample. What is that in scientific notation?

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