The Universe - How's The Air Out There?

How do the atmosphere, solar energy and water found on Earth compare with what we find on other planets? In this activity you will locate and interpret evidence comparing Earth's characteristics with those of other planets and moons in the solar system. As you complete this activity, you will demonstrate your ability to use appropriate research and data collection skills. Good luck!

Identify the characteristics of Earth's environment and the requirements which make life possible on Earth. Now compare the characteristics to those of the other planets and moons in the solar system. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is it really like out on that planet or moon?
  • Can humans travel to this planet or moon?
  • Is the planet or moon capable of supporting life?
    • What characteristics of Earth are similar to the planet or moon?
    • What characteristics of life are missing from this location?
  • What have humans actually learned about this other location in the solar system?
  • How can humans learn more about planets and moons?
    • What technologies have scientists developed to study these areas of the universe?
    • What technologies do you propose would need to be invented to assist in future discoveries?
Get to Know The Planets

Materials:

  • School textbook
  • Library
  • Internet

Procedure:

  1. Use the materials listed to determine the following information about the planets and moons of our solar system:
    • What is the atmosphere of this planet or moon like?
    • How much solar energy arrives at this planet or moon from the sun?
    • Is water present on this planet or moon and if so, what form is it found in?
  2. Combine the information you find into a presentation. (You may choose to make a multimedia presentation, create a poster display, make a series of web pages, or develop a video.)
  3. Make sure your presentation is accurate and answers the questions in the procedure above.
  4. You may find it helpful to use data tables and/or graphs to represent your findings.
  5. Hint: as you collect information make sure to organize it and then keep it for other activities in this unit! You may find it helpful to place your notes in a folder, or create a bookmark list of URLs to help you with further assignments.
  6. Share your project with friends, family, or classmates.

Analysis:

  1. How do the atmospheres of the planets compare?
  2. Do any moons have an atmosphere?
    • Which planets have an atmosphere that is similar to Earth's?
  3. On which of the planets has water been discovered?
  4. What would be needed to determine the presence or absence of water on each of the planets and moons?
  5. How would you relate the solar energy that a planet receives in comparison to its distance from the sun?

Check your answers. Highlight the box below and see how you did.

Not every planet has an atmosphere. When an atmosphere is present, the composition of elements it is made of varies.

Most moons do not have an atmosphere, but it is present around some.

    No planet has an atmosphere that is exactly like Earth's. There are, however, some planets that have similar gases in the atmosphere that is around them.

At this time, water has only been verified on Earth.

To determine the presence of water on other planets or moons will require space explorations with appropriate sensory equipment.

The farther a planet is from the sun, the less solar energy it receives.