Buried Water Ice on Mars

In 2001, the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft discovered significant amounts of water ice buried in the high latitude regions of Mars. This exciting discovery was based upon data from the Mars Gamma Ray Spectrometer and has been a primary motivation for the development of the Mars Phoenix Lander, which landed in the northern high latitudes of Mars in 2008 and investigated this buried water ice.

The Mars Gamma Ray Spectrometer science team has worked with a diverse group of educators to develop five classroom activities related to this exciting discovery. These field-tested activities involve both guided and open inquiry activities using real data from Mars to investigate and learn about processes occurring on the planet. The activities address items found in all 7 of the National Science Education Content Standards. These draft lessons are currently going through the NASA educational review process.

The lessons are targeted towards students in late middle school and early high school enrolled in earth and physical science classes. Each of the lessons has been developed as a stand alone activity, although it is also possible to sequence these activities into a unit regarding water ice on Mars. A brief summary of each lesson is provided below along with a link to teacher guides, student guides, multimedia presentations, and lesson extensions. For further information on these activities and other education projects visit the Mars Gamma Ray Spectrometer Website or contact Dr. John Keller or Sanlyn Buxner.

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