The Search for Life on Mars

By: Ally W.

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From the Big Bang to Galaxies

Within a tiny fraction of a second the universe was expanding extremely fast. The universe was thought to change in a flash to the size of an atom to the size of our earth. Protons and neutrons form very quickly when its created. The temperature continues to fall and when it gets down to 3000 K electrons can start orbiting protons and hydrogen nuclei without getting separated by the heat. Our galaxy formed when the universe was about 3 billion years old. Galaxy's are classed according to their shape as elliptical, spiral, or irregular. The arms of a galaxy can be anything to tightly wound or very loose. Galaxy's that collide head on combine to make a much larger galaxy.

The Milky Way Galaxy

The light of the Milky way comes from huge numbers of individual stars. The Milky Way is an insiders view of our Galaxy. There's a flat disc of stars that’s 100 thousand light years across and about 2000 light years wide. An even thinner layer of gas & dust cuts across the middle of the disc. The un lies in the disc about halfway out of the galactic center. About halfway across the other side there is another galaxy merging with the Milky Way. Closing in to the bulb the stars are bright orange and yellow meaning that they are older than most stars. The stars can be as far as 130 thousand light years from the canter of the galaxy. The whole galaxy is turning and each star is going in its own orbit. The galaxy is five times bigger than it appears.

History of the Solar System

The sun like all stars formed when gravity pulled dust and gas together. The rotating ball collapsed into a thin disc. In the disc solid material started to collect in to large partials when they got bigger they were known as plantecimals far from the sun where it was cold they still thrived. At first they were very closely packed and when they would collide they would break or stay together. Four very larger masses formed Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in the outer solar system. In the inner solar system there is Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. The moon was probably formed in a collision between the newly formed earth and another planet close to Mars. A few plantecimals were caught as moons to other planets. Today large rocks crashing down to earth is very rare at this time.

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In 100 B.C. a Greek inventor named hero used steam as a gas. He put a globe shaped iron kettle on top of fire to turn it into stream. The gas went though two L shaped pipes that made the kettle turn around and around. This relates to rockets because we needed to know how to produce steam and where to put it to make an object move. Shortly after the Chinese started to do things with the gun powder-filled tubes. After they discovered that the tubes could launch themselves the rocket came into play. The first true rocket was invented in 1232.

The Chinese and Mongols were at war and when they started to fire things one of those things was a rocket. People started to think about rockets in space when a Russian school teacher in 1898 suggested just that. In the 20th Century an American Robert Goddard conducted experiments in rocketry. In 1915 he tried to tell which gas would be most productive in rocketry. Goddard's rockets became bigger and flew higher as time passed. In the late 20th century the Germans formed the rocket named the V-2. this rocket was known as the A-4 in Germany and it was much, much smaller then most of today's rockets.


Learn more about this project

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Over the past 40 years there have been a lot of successful missions to Mars. A few of the successful ones are Spirit and Opportunity. Spirit was launched on July 10th of 2003, and landed on January 4th of 2004. Spirit was sent out equipped with power tools and some rocks to help them find out if there was once life on Mars. The tools are cameras, a navigational camera, and cameras for just taking pictures. Spirit landed on the opposite side of Mars than his twin which was Opportunity. Opportunity was launched on July 7th of 2003, and landed on Mars on January 25 of 2004. Opportunity found the first meteorite on another planet and over two years of studying the Victoria Crater.

My Labeled Rocket!


Nosecone- guides airflow around the rocket

Body Tube- main structural part, usually a strong paper tube

Recovery System- device for getting the rocket back safely and intact for repeat use

Recovery Wadding- Protects recovery system from hot ejection charge gases.

Launch Lug- guides rocket straight off launch pad

Motor Mount- holds motor in place.

Rocket Motor- safe, non reusable device. A new motor is needed for each flight.

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Everyone in our class added about 6 maybe a little more but on average 6 fins. Michel A and Jack M's rocket went the highest because they reduced the size of fins to be turned into aerodynamic! Every ones with the exception of maybe two flew higher than originally. I think this is because there were more fins to cut though the air.

The purpose of the experiment was to see id the mass of the rocket affected how high the rocket flies. The mass of the rocket did effect how high the rocket flew. The more fins the lower the rocket went and the less the higher.

Lab Group
Mass (g)
Number of Fins
Altitude Angle (degrees)
Maximum Altitude (m)
Claire & Margret
Jessica J & Katherine
Jilly & Jackie
Sam K & Ally
Jessica M & Joya
Alec & Sam M
Liam & Bryce
Jarod & Jack S
Michael C & Keegan
Michael A & Jack M

Rocket Summary


Each pair of people was given a kit to build the same rocket. We built the rockets and painted them so every one's mass was different. We went outside to launch the rockets and we had to measure 100 meters away from the launch pad with the trundle wheel. We sent two people over to use the angle guns to measure the angle of our rockets. We all used A8-3 rocket engines, when we launched our rocket's parachute didn’t open do we lost a fin. The purpose of this experiment is to find weather or not the rockets altitude was effected by the mass of the rocket.
The mass did not effect the height of the rocket, but what actually did was the fins. One pairs rocket only had one fin and it only went about 10 feet in the sky. The mass of the rockets even though they were different did not effect the height of the actual launch. My hypothesis was false because I said the more mass the rocket has the lower it will go because the gravity is strong but the push is strong. I said this because I knew that the masses were all different but I thought it would effect the height. The gravitational pull is stronger on objects that have more mass.

Robot History

The idea of robotics first came to people’s minds during the industrial Revolution because they were using steam and other resources. The electricity and more complex machines made people able to use small compact engines. After the 1920’s human like robots also known as, humanoid machines were being developed. In the 1960’s people started to make actual robots and they were using them in factories. George Devol created the first industrial robot names Unimate. Unimate’s first job was in a general motors assembly line in 1961.

Takeo Kanade made the first “direct drive arm”. The arms of the robot are inside itself, the reason for them being built is to make cars. In 1981 IBM made its first computer PC. Our tablet PC at school is by far more high tech than the first IBM computer. The Roomba a vacuum cleaner was first released by 2002. In 2004 they figured out that the Roomba could respond to commands. They set up two cubes that there was a connecting line in between them and the Roomba can’t go past those lines.

abw_cars.jpg abw_old.jpg

Programming Robots:

Robots have a motor for each wheel. The wheels can rotate forward and backward and turn right and left at a curve or a right angle. The motors can be programed though our computers onto the robot that is a computer as well. One movement is backwards it can do as many rotations as you would like and it will keep going until you hit abort or the limit of rotations is run out, this is the same for the other motions. The other ones are forwards, right and left turns and backwards. Some of the challenges are, you don’t really know how it will turn out so you have to guesstimate and also sometimes the robots motors don’t work as planned meaning the could go off course or run into something.


There are many ways to identify minerals a few that we studied are, streak testing, light refraction, magnetism, taste, and acid testing. The streak test we had about four minerals and we had to see what kind of streak it made. Also there were two streak plates that had two streaks one on each and we had to identify them. A geologist can tell what type of mineral it is depending on its streak. For the light refraction test we had three minerals that were all transparent, we also had a book that we would fins a normal paragraph to do the test on. A geologist would not likely do the same exact thing I think he would put together some words like an eye test to see. For the magnetism test we had 75 rock to scroll over with a magnet to see if they were magnetic 9% of them were. A geologist would probably preform this experiment close to the same. For the taste test we tasted calcite and halite by simply looking at the color and observations and tasting it. A geologist would probably do it the same way we preformed it in class. For the last experiment we did acid testing by putting the mineral in a dish and seeing if it bubbled when we put acid on it.

The rover has pretty much everything it needs to copy what humans do. We collect samples and do acid testing. The robot has a small drill that will drill into mars itself and them the powder that came out the robot would collect it. Like humans the robot can test minerals like having a hammer, acid, and many more tools.

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All living things must have these characteristics they must be made of cells, need materials, homeostatic, respond to stimuli, reproduce, grow, adapt, and reparation. Living things must be made of cells, cells have parts and they are fundamental units of living things meaning that living things couldn't be living without cells. Also a living thing needs to be able to gather materials from the environment, things like gases, water and many other necessities. Homeostatic means that living things might change on the outside but they try and stay the same on the inside. Living things must also respond to stimuli, which is anything that causes living things to react. Also living things must reproduce meaning they must have sexual reproduction (two parents) or asexual reproduction (one parent). Growing is another thing that living beings must be able to do they must be able to grow, all things develop from a lower or simpler to a higher or more complex form-embryo --> newborn --> child --> adolescent-->adult. Living things must be able to adapt to their surroundings and climate. Respiration is another thing that living beings must do in order to live, Respiration is releasing stored energy into in the chemical bonds of sugar. In order for a being to be alive it must be able to do all of these things.

Some experiments must be done to find out if there is or was life on another planet. The reason why we chose mars is because it is earth like enough that some of the same events might have happened on mars as well as earth. There are many ways we could detect life, you could look at Mars and see that there are little indentations of streams identifying that there was once water. Also you could collect rock samples and see if there is anything growing there.

external image ExoPlanet.jpg