The Search for Life on Mars

By: Alisha A.

The Big Bang Video Paragraph

The Universe is a very commonly used word, but many don't know how the Universe was formed. The most common explanation is The Big Bang. The Universe began fifteen billion years ago. It was packed into a small space which is smaller than an atomic nucleus. The temperature was very high. Within a fraction of a second it was expanding rapidly due to an explosion. Eventually a mixture of radiant energy and exotic particles (for example quarks and antiquarks) were formed. After a little while the expansion comes to a steady rate. Matter was created through the radiant energy. While the temperature is falling an illation happens. When the Universe reached a tenth of a second old, protons and neutrons are forming. After one second the temperature falls to a relevantly cooler ten billion degrees. By the time three minutes came up, a quarter of the protons and neutrons have combined to form Helium nuclei. In the next 300,000 not much happens. The Universe keeps growing larger and larger and the temperature will keep dropping. When the temperature had dropped to 3,000 degrees Kelvin, electrons, protons, and neutrons join together to form atoms. At this point radiation is free to travel long distances. Two billion years after the Big Bang, galaxies began to form. Gas of the galaxy forms a disc like shape around the center of the galaxy. There are three types of galaxies: elliptical, spiral and irregular. Galaxies can collide. When they do, arms form. When two galaxies collide at the head they can combine and create an even bigger galaxy. One day our galaxy will collide with another and become something much bigger than what we already have.

The Milky Way Galaxy Video Paragraph

The Milky way galaxy is the most common of all the galaxies. When you think about it all it is, is a flat disc of stars 100,000 light years across and 2-3 light years thick. The rest is composed of gas and dust. In the center is the central bulged which is 20,000 light years across. Sun is in the disc, about half way out from the center. Star clusters are in the form of a halo. Around the galaxy are spiral arms. Keep in mind there are stars everywhere in the galaxy and around the galaxy. Inside the galaxy there are red and orange stars the color of the stars (red and orange) indicate that the stars are old. On the very inside of the galaxy is the nucleus which is 15 light years away from the center. Also on the inside is a colossal black hole. Surrounding the black hole is a ring of gas clouds. While everything in the galaxy is going on the hole entire galaxy is rotating. And each and every star is on its own orbit. The sun takes about 250,000,000 million years to go around once. It is moving at 250 kilometers per second. Galaxies are five times bigger than they appear and we don’t realize how they form and everything that is in them.

The History of the Solar System Video Paragraph

The sun formed when gravity pulled together a cloud of interstellar gas. This happened 4.5 billion years ago. In the disc there was solid material. Those become planetecimals. Warmer planetecimals are made out of metal and rock. At first they were packed tightly, but now they are not. In the outer solar system there are four large masses or now known as planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Those planets grew discs which had moons on them. The inner solar system had too many collisions for big planets. So small planets formed like Earth, Mercury, Venus, and Mars. The surface is heated by radioactivity from the inside. Metal from the inside sank to the middle of the planet, but the rock rose to the surface and cooled. Moon was created by the Earth and a rock the size of Mars colliding. Planetecimals can become comets if they become heated by the sun

Rocket History

The first device to successfully complete the rocket mechanics principle was an aeolipile. A Greek inventor named Hero of Alexandria found a way to use steam as a propulsive gas. Hero put a sphere on top of a kettle and with a fire below, the water turned into steam. The Chinese thought of using gun-powder tubes. After many more experiments with bamboo and bows, in 1232 they realized that the gun-powder tubes can launch themselves. Rockets were used in battle by the Chinese. During the 13th - 15th century many people had tried to come up with rocket building techniques and experiments involving rockets. From England to France, rocketry was the next big thing. In 1898, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky suggested the plan of using rockets for space exploration. Tsiolkovsky said that using liquid propellers would help give greater range. He said that the speed and range were limited to the exhaust. work made rocketry a little less complicated. An American scientist Robert H. Goddard experimented with different fuels to figure out which one would last the longest. His most famous experiments were with liquid propellant rockets.

Later on, many different countries were taking notice on the rise of rockets and rocket societies were everywhere. In Germany, created the V-2 rocket, which was used in World War II. The V-2 was able to thrust by a mixture of liquid oxygen and alcohol. After they realized that rocketry was moving forward and had potential, USA created the first US space program. On October 4, 1957, the world found out about the satellite named Sputnik I that belonged to the Soviet Union. After the success of Sputnik I, the Soviet Union sent out another satellite carrying a dog named Laika. Laika was able to survive for seven days before she was put to sleep. The US later on launched a satellite called Explorer I. Excited by the success, the USA created a formal space program named NASA. Soon after, many people were being launched into space. And if it weren't for Goddard, the Chinese, Tsiolkovsky or the Soviet Union we would know less about rocketry than we know today.

Rocket Stages Video

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Exploration of Mars Paragraph

Over the last 40 years there have been numerous space missions with the goal of exploring Mars. A few of these missions will be explained. The Mariner program, in 1964, made two tries to get to mars. They used the Mariner 3 and the Mariner 4. the Mariner 3 failed when it did not open properly. Although the Mariner 3 failed, the Mariner 4 succeeded. It provided many pictures of Mars. NASA was so happy with Mariner 4's success that the continued with Mariner 6, 7, 8, and 9. The Viking program launched Viking 1 and Viking 2 into space in 1975. The Vikings took pictures which showed us deep, carved out valleys which proves that there once was water on Mars. These are just two of the many missions to Mars.

My Rocket Labels


Rocket Experiment Data and Results

Our rocket flew up and to the left a little bit. When it went up, it was not a spiral, it went straight up. During the recovery the parachute didn’t work right, but it still worked. The parachute didn’t come out of the rocket properly. Since the parachute didn’t work right, the rocket landed in a funny way and one of the fins came lose. The parachute was intact after the experiment.

The purpose of this experiment was to see if the greater the mass the higher the rocket would fly or if the lighter the mass the higher it would fly. Before we performed our experiment we made our rocket and painted them. The paint caused all our masses to be different. Our experiment was performed by two people measuring out 100m and they would measure the angle at which the rocket flew. The rocket was placed on launch pad and an igniter was hooked up to the rocket. We all counted down and then two buttons were pressed to send the rocket flying. The results of our experiment showed that the heavier the mass of the rocket was, the higher it would fly or the lighter a rocket was the higher it would fly. The rockets that flew the highest were 50.6g and they flew 86.9m. Something that I found interesting was the fact that the lightest rocket flew the same height as the heavier rocket. My hypothesis was incorrect. I hypothesized that a mass in the middle would cause the rocket to go higher. I was proven wrong. The experiment shows that the heavier a rocket is or the lighter a rocket is the higher it will go.

Rocket Fin Experiment

The fins scatterplot (1st graph below) shows an inverse relationship. The lower amount of fins you had the higher the rocket would fly. A rocket with 4 fins went 86.9 m. a rocket with 10 fins went 7m high. There were fin amounts in the middle which made them fly high but not as high as the small amount of fins. The maximum altitude versus the mass scatterplot (2nd graph below) was a no relationship graph. The lowest mass and the altitude didn’t have any relationship and the greater mass and the altitude didn’t have any relationship either. The largest mass was 58.8 and it flew 38.4 m. The lowest mass was 48.2 and it flew 57.7m. There was a mass in the middle which was 50.5 and it only flew 3.5m. My hypothesis was incorrect. I thought that the more fins you had the higher it would fly. But it was proven that the less fins you had the higher it would fly.

Our rocket flew up, turned left, the parachute came out and then it landed. It did not go very high because of our many fins. The last time we flew our rocket it went up and the parachute didn’t come out. But this time the parachute came out correctly.



Robotics History

Robot history dates as far back as ancient China and ancient Greek mythology. The word robot came from the Czech. It came from the word "robota". The first actual robot was named televox and was operated through a telephone system. It was made in 1927 by the USA. In the UK, robots such as the Robison were made for cracking enigma codes. In 1943, the Colossus was built to decode FISH messages. The Colossus was the much faster than the Robison and was the first electronic computer.

Robotics have changed a lot since those times. Ever since then, robots have been launched out into space. Robots such as Spirit and Opportunity have been launched to Mars to explore for life. Robots have changed a lot since history. If it weren't for the ancient Chinese and Greeks, we wouldn’t have what we have today.

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Programming an NXT robot

In an NXT robot, the motor is a very important part of the robot. It helps the robot move forward, backward and go in circles. There are two motors in an NXT robot: the right motor and the left motor. When both the motors rotate at the same time, then the robot moves forward. If the right motor moves slower than the left motor then you get a curve turn to the right. If the left motor moves slower than the right then you get a curve turn to the left. You can make the robot go in a square and attach a sound sensor. You can program the robot in Lego Mindstorms to do all these functions.

Minerals Being Identified/ Curiosity and Geology

To identify minerals and rocks there are many different tests that can be preformed. One of the tests is to just observe the rocks and minerals. Look for the color, roughness, and how the surface looks. The color can sometimes tell you if it is a rock or a mineral. Although sometimes it is hard to specify which type of mineral or rock it is. Another test is to look for the hardness of the mineral or rock. If a mineral or rock is harder than another mineral or rock, then the harder one will make a mark on the softer one. You could also preform the scratch test. You take a mineral or a rock and scratch a piece of porcelain and see what mark is made. Magnetism is another way of testing minerals and rocks. You can see which ones are magnetic to help you narrow down your choices. Some minerals are edible, meaning you can eat them. Certain minerals, such as calcite and halite, have very specific tastes, so it's easy to identify them. Some minerals and rocks are very reactant to hydrochloric acid. By putting hydrochloric acid on it you might cause a reaction between the two. There is one more way of testing to determine a mineral or rock. If you put the rock or mineral on a book and see how it affects the words on the page. Those are the many tests you can use to determine a rock or mineral.


Curiosity is on its way right now to Mars to search for evidence of life. It will have to encounter rocks. Humans preform what Curiosity will have to do first. It will land in a safe spot, but then travel to where it is very rough and there is a lot of geological evidence. Geologists look for organic molecules for which you need to have life. Curiosity will use its drill to drill a hole in the rock. Drilling a hole will cause dust to come out of the rock. That dust will then go back into Curiosity. The dust will go into instruments. They will analyze the powder. The one would give information about the mineralogy. The other would tell us if there were any organic molecules. Curiosity has entire science lab with it. It is larger than any rover ever to be sent out. There is a laser which will help us look at rocks which are in places or positions which we can't see. The laser will shoot the rocks and the reflection of the light will help us determine the chemical composition.


Search for Life on Mars

There are many different things in the world, but how do we know if they are living or not? There are eight characteristics that you can look for to determine if something is living or not. The first thing is if you are living you have to have cells. Cells are what make up plants or animals. There are plant cells and animal cells. Both of them have the same function. The second characteristic is that if you are living you have to need materials. Plants need sunlight just the same way as humans need vitamins and minerals. The third thing is you have to be homeostatic. That means you stay the same on the inside. You will always have to have a heart, brain, blood, arteries and veins etc. The fourth characteristic is you need to be able to respond to stimuli. Stimuli are anything that can cause a living thing to react, such as screaming, or getting hurt. If something is able to respond to stimuli then you are living. There are two types of responses, positive and negative. A positive response will cause a living thing to move closer to the stimuli. A negative response will cause a living thing to move farther away from the stimuli. The fifth thing is you have to reproduce. That can mean cloning yourself or making more of something. The sixth characteristic is you have to be able to grow. A human grows as their life continues. They will start out as an infant, child, teen, and then they become adults. The seventh thing is you have to be able to adapt to things. Humans are a great example of this. Humans are warm blooded. The last characteristic is respiration. Humans and animals break apart their food, keep and store the vitamins and minerals that they need and get rid of what they don’t need. If you look for these eight characteristics you will be able to determine if something is living or not.


Scientists have focused on Mars for a long time. Since Mars is another planet, it is harder to search for life and there are not as many ways. Opportunity and Mariner were both sent out to Mars and pictures were sent back with evidence showing that there once was water on Mars. In the LR experiment, they pick up soils and mix it with water which has chemicals in it. This experiment was used on Viking 1 and 2. Sadly, when the Viking tested out the LR experiment, it failed due to there not being a probe. The next thing you can use is Cluster. When you use Cluster, you take similar looking samples and analyze then. When the Viking sent back its data, they analyzed it and took extra samples to test it.