Teaching Science

Space Resources


Copyright on all materials on this site is retained by the authors. You are granted a limited license to reproduce these resources for classroom use, provided the copyright notices are not removed. Charging a fee for these resources, or distributing them in any way outside your classroom, is prohibited.

Our Place in Space

The Sun

Stacks Image 641
This is an ebook from Open University.

The sun dominates our lives by defining our day, but how much do you know and understand about it? This unit will help you to explore the workings of the brightest star in our universe looking at its structure and the main processes taking place within it. You will also examine the phenomena of sun spots. This study unit is just one of many that can be found on LearningSpace, part of OpenLearn, a collection of open educational resources from The Open University. Published in ePub 2.0.1 format, some feature such as audio, video and linked PDF are not supported by all ePub readers.

Moons of the Solar System

Stacks Image 643
This is a podcast from Open University.

How did the solar system form? Are we alone in the Universe? What are alien atmospheres made of? These questions can be answered by studying the solar system's vast family of satellites. This collection of videos looks at five of the most intriguing worlds that we've managed to visit over the last fifty years, including The Moon, Europa, Phobos, Deimos and Titan. From the first human footsteps on another world to the most distant spacecraft landing in history, our neighbourhood of moons has always played a central role in our exploration of the planets. For an introductory astronomy course, try The Open University course S194 Introducing astronomy.

A nice HD video podcast about the moons of the solar system.

Planetary Science

Stacks Image 645
This is a podcast from Open University.

Our planet is at the centre of a cosmic shooting gallery. This album examines the evidence for and effect of asteroid impacts and meteor explosions on Earth. The 6 video tracks assess the environmental effects caused by bolides of different sizes and trajectories. How do scientists detect that a crater on Earth is the result of an asteroid impact? Ian Gilmour visits an unusual circular feature at Nordingen in Southern Germany and Peter Schultz describes the oblique impact at Rio Quarto in Argentina. When comets collide with planets, the consequences can be catastrophic. What kind of impact could cause mass extinction on earth? This material forms part of the Open University course S283 Planetary science and the search for life.

In Our Time: Ptolemy and Ancient Astronomy

Stacks Image 2946
Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the ancient Greek astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, and consider how and why his geocentric theory of the universe held sway for so many centuries. In his seminal astronomical work, the Almagest, written in the 2nd century AD, Ptolemy proposed that the Earth was at the centre of the universe and explained all the observed motions of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars with a system of uniform circular motions which he referred to as 'epicycles'.

Ptolemy's model of the universe remained the dominant one for over a thousand years. It was not until 1543, and Copernicus's heliocentric theory of the world, that the Ptolemaic model was finally challenged, and not until 1609 that Johannes Kepler's New Astronomy put an end to his ideas for good. But how and why did Ptolemy's system survive for so long?

Structure of the Sun Model

Stacks Image 1237
Updated February 9, 2014
Paper modelling is big in Japan, and Canon has many free paper models that can be printed on card stock and easily assembled with scissors and glue.

The Sun was born about 4.6 billion years ago, and has been shining over and nurturing us and all lives on the earth. The major difference in the structure between the Sun and the Earth or the moon is that it is entirely composed of high temperature gases. The Sun is structured with roughly three layers of the core, radiate layer and convection layer, and among these three layers, the core, in particular, has the highest temperature and density, and generates the sources of light and heat by nuclear fusion. This generated energy fills the radiate layer and it is carried to the surface (photosphere) by actions in the convection layer. Actually, however, it takes hundreds of thousand years before the energy generated in the core reaches the surface of the Sun, and the energy travels the distance between the Sun and the Earth around 150 million km to reach us.

Lunar Globe Model

Stacks Image 1239
Updated February 9, 2014
Paper modelling is big in Japan, and Canon has many free paper models that can be printed on card stock and easily assembled with scissors and glue.

The Moon is the most familiar celestial body to us. Since ancient times, the Moon has exerted a powerful influence on our lives. In ancient Japan, a month was defined by the cycle of the Moon as it waxed and waned. This lunar calendar is still in use in Japan as the basis for an older, traditional calendar. Although the Moon is such a familiar feature in our lives, much about it remains unknown.In 2007, Japan launched Selene (also known as Kaguya, after a princess from Japanese legend who traveled to the Moon), its first lunar orbiter. Other countries launched their own lunar probes soon thereafter. Through such explorations, we are finding solutions to the hitherto unsolved mysteries of the Moon. These efforts will eventually make the Moon an even more familiar object. Use the Canon Creative Park lunar globe to learn more about the Moon. You can learn the names and locations of various craters and inspect the craters by actually looking up at the Moon.

Moving Copernican System & Moving Ptolemaic System Models

Stacks Image 1260
Updated February 9, 2014
Paper modelling is big in Japan, and Canon has many free paper models that can be printed on card stock and easily assembled with scissors and glue.

"Moving Copernican System" In the early 16th century, Copernicus, who was born in Poland, proposed a heliocentric theory in which the Earth revolved around the sun. Now we know that this theory was correct. In the early 17th century, Kepler showed, based on the observations, that the orbits of planets did not form perfect circles, but rather traveled elliptical orbits, with the sun at a focus point. Galileo also advocated the heliocentric theory based on his astronomical observations. Finally, Newton discovered the Law of Universal Gravitation toward the end of 17th century, proving the correctness of the Copernican System. "Moving Ptolemaic System" More than 1,800 years ago, the Greek astronomer Ptolemy from Alexandria proposed a cosmic structure called the Ptolemaic System in which Earth was stationary at the center of the cosmos, while the moon, the sun, planets, and stars revolved around it. This theory held sway for over 1,300 years but was eventually discredited due to various observations.

In Our Time: The Moon

Stacks Image 2983
Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the origins, science and mythology of the moon. Humans have been fascinated by our only known satellite since prehistory. In some cultures the Moon has been worshipped as a deity; in recent centuries there has been lively debate about its origins and physical characteristics. Although other planets in our solar system have moons ours is, relatively speaking, the largest, and is perhaps more accurately described as a 'twin planet'; the past, present and future of the Earth and the Moon are locked together. Only very recently has water been found on the Moon - a discovery which could prove to be invaluable if human colonisation of the Moon were ever to occur.

In Our Time: The Planets

Stacks Image 2814
Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss our knowledge of the planets in both our and other solar systems. Tucked away in the outer Western Spiral arm of the Milky Way is a middle aged star, with nine, or possibly ten orbiting planets of hugely varying sizes. Roughly ninety-two million miles and third in line from that central star is our own planet Earth, in thrall to our Sun, just one of the several thousand million stars that make up the Galaxy.

In Our Time: Mars

Stacks Image 2799
Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the planet Mars. Named after the Roman god of war, Mars has been a source of continual fascination. It is one of our nearest neighbours in space, though it takes about a year to get there. It is very inhospitable with high winds racing across extremely cold deserts. But it is spectacular, with the highest volcano in the solar system and a giant chasm that dwarfs the Grand Canyon.

In Our Time: Comets

Stacks Image 2927
Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss comets, the 'dirty snowballs' of the Solar System. In the early 18th century the Astronomer Royal Sir Edmond Halley compiled a list of appearances of comets, bright objects like stars with long tails which are occasionally visible in the night sky. He concluded that many of these apparitions were in fact the same comet, which returns to our skies around every 75 years, and whose reappearance he correctly predicted. Halley's Comet is today the best known example of a comet, a body of ice and dust which orbits the Sun. Since they contain materials from the time when the Solar System was formed, comets are regarded by scientists as frozen time capsules, with the potential to reveal important information about the early history of our planet and others.

In Our Time: Asteroids

Stacks Image 3051
Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the unique properties of asteroids. It is now thought that asteroids are the unused building blocks of planets, 'pristine material' that has remained chemically unchanged since the creation of the solar system; a snapshot of matter at the beginning of time. At the moment the Japanese probe Hayabusa is 180 million miles away, pinned to the back of the asteroid Itokawa, attempting to gain our first samples of the chemical composition of an asteroid.

Why did asteroids fail to form planets? How do they differ from their celestial cousins, the comets? And are either of them likely to create another impact on planet Earth?

In Our Time: The Sun

Stacks Image 6528
Updated July 11, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Sun. The object that gives the Earth its light and heat is a massive ball of gas and plasma 93 million miles away. Thanks to the nuclear fusion reactions taking place at its core, the Sun has been shining for four and a half billion years. Its structure, and the processes that keep it burning, have fascinated astronomers for centuries. After the invention of the telescope it became apparent that the Sun is not a placid, steadily shining body but is subject to periodic changes in its appearance and eruptions of dramatic violence, some of which can affect us here on Earth. Recent space missions have revealed fascinating new insights into our nearest star.

In Our Time: Saturn

Stacks Image 8530
Updated Januray 23, 2016
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the planet Saturn with its rings of ice and rock and over 60 moons. In 1610, Galileo used an early telescope to observe Saturn, one of the brightest points in the night sky, but could not make sense of what he saw: perhaps two large moons on either side. When he looked a few years later, those supposed moons had disappeared. It was another forty years before Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens solved the mystery, realizing the moons were really a system of rings. Successive astronomers added more detail, with the greatest leaps forward in the last forty years. The Pioneer 11 spacecraft and two Voyager missions have flown by, sending back the first close-up images, and Cassini is still there, in orbit, confirming Saturn, with its rings and many moons, as one of the most intriguing and beautiful planets in our Solar System.

Discovery: Happy Birthday, Neptune

Stacks Image 5261
Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

On 12 July 2011, Neptune was one year old - one Neptunian year that is.

The furthest planet from the sun, it's only now completed one solar orbit since its discovery in 1846, traveling so slowly each Neptunian season lasts 40 Earth years.

What can you ever know about a world when even the most advanced human telescopes have only studied it for a season?

Discovery: Solar Max

Stacks Image 5042
Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

As we approach 'solar max', when the sun is at its most active and ferocious, astronomer Lucie Green investigates the hidden dangers our nearest star poses to us on Earth.

But with so many national hazards to deal with, from flooding to pandemic flu, how much importance should we place on solar storms?

Discovery: Aboriginal Astronomy

Stacks Image 5356
Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

Were Australia's prehistoric Aboriginal people the world's first true astronomers, predating European and ancient Greek and Indian astronomers by thousands of years?

The stunning discovery of what is being called an "Aboriginal Stonehenge", the first of its kind to be found in Australia, could change that continent's history and with it our whole understanding of how and when humans began to accurately chart the night skies.

The stones at Wurdi Youang will be a test of Australia's scientists and of Australia’s willingness to properly appreciate its ancient indigenous past.

In Our Time: The Kuiper Belt

Stacks Image 12096
Added April 26, 2017
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Kuiper Belt, a vast region of icy objects at the fringes of our Solar System, beyond Neptune, in which we find the dwarf planet Pluto and countless objects left over from the origins of the solar system, some of which we observe as comets. It extends from where Neptune is, which is 30 times further out than the Earth is from the Sun, to about 500 times the Earth-Sun distance. It covers an immense region of space and it is the part of the Solar System that we know the least about, because it is so remote from us and has been barely detectable by Earth-based telescopes until recent decades. Its existence was predicted before it was known, and study of the Kuiper Belt, and how objects move within it, has led to a theory that there may be a 9th planet far beyond Neptune.

In Our Time: Johannes Kepler

Stacks Image 12144
Added April 26, 2017
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630). Although he is overshadowed today by Isaac Newton and Galileo, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest scientists in history. The three laws of planetary motion Kepler developed transformed people's understanding of the Solar System and laid the foundations for the revolutionary ideas Isaac Newton produced later. Kepler is also thought to have written one of the first works of science fiction. However, he faced a number of challenges. He had to defend his mother from charges of witchcraft, he had few financial resources and his career suffered as a result of his Lutheran faith.

Beyond the Solar System

Astronomy

Stacks Image 621
This is a podcast from Open University.

Thanks to cutting-edge radio and infra-red astronomy, our understanding of the universe is moving very fast. Ideas about black holes and cosmic jets are constantly being refined as new discoveries are made using new, more powerful telescopes. This album explores the incredible discoveries and theories developed in recent years and introduces the astronomical observatories, space missions and satellites that have made it possible. The 12 video tracks reveal that our sun, though essential for our existence, is an unremarkable member of the stellar menagerie. They describe how astronomers study the structure and dynamics of our galaxy, the Milky Way and they introduce the challenges inherent in mapping the geometry and expansion of the universe. This material forms part of the course S282 Astronomy.

Planisphere

Stacks Image 1301
Updated February 9, 2014
Paper modelling is big in Japan, and Canon has many free paper models that can be printed on card stock and easily assembled with scissors and glue.

A planisphere is an instrument used to represent the heavens at any time and date, by aligning its date and time scales. For example, by aligning March 1 on the rotating date scale to 7:20 pm on the inside time scale, you can reproduce the starry sky of 7:20 pm on March 1. To view the southern sky, hold the planisphere with the "South" label on the bottom, and to view the northern sky, hold the planisphere with the "North" label on the bottom. Compare the stars shown on the planisphere with the actual night sky. The edge of the planisphere's opening corresponds to the horizon, while its center corresponds roughly to the sky directly above your head (the zenith). Note that the constellations of the southern sky are shown stretched to the left and right. You can use this planisphere to try to memorize the names of the constellations, by comparing it with the starry sky on a clear night.

Consellations

Stacks Image 12499
Added May 11, 2017
Humans have gazed into the night sky since the dawn of time. Dreaming, wondering, and developing stories around patterns of stars. These star patterns are now associated with some of the most intriguing and well-known creatures from mythology and nature.

With the introduction of telescopes, we have learned so much more about stars. They have different sizes, colors, locations, and characteristics. This knowledge has made looking at constellations all the more fun. We developed the Constellations game to bring our amazing sky, with its rich history, mythology, and science to your game-playing experience!

In this game, players are stargazers, exploring the night sky and collecting stars to define constellations. They compete to find the right stars to fit the needed pattern -- are B-type stars or F-types required to complete the constellation? Players compete with each other to strategically collect the right stars, reserve patches of the sky for observation, and explore the universe. Once you have your constellation, add it to the map of the night sky being assembled right in front of you. The closer you get to putting together the actual map of the heavens, the more points you score!

The game involves drawing Star Cards, which represent the seven types of stars classified by astronomers. Each constellation requires a unique combination of star types to place in the sky. As the game progresses and more constellations fill up the night, players must use their puzzle skills to fit the hexes on the board to score the most points. The player with the most constellation points at the end of the game wins!

The game also includes an educational workbook about stellar evolution, star classification information, and the history and mythology of the real constellations.

This game is currently a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve backed it because I liked Xtronaut so much. I’ll update the description when it arrives.

In Our Time: Galaxies

Stacks Image 2753
Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the galaxies. Spread out across the voids of space like spun sugar, but harbouring in their centres super-massive black holes.

Galaxies - the vast islands in space of staggering beauty and even more staggering dimension. But galaxies are not simply there to adorn the universe; they house much of its visible matter and maintain the stars in a constant cycle of creation and destruction.

But why do galaxies exist, how have they evolved and what lies at the centre of a galaxy to make the stars dance round it at such colossal speeds?

In Our Time: The Life of Stars

Stacks Image 3312
Updated February 24, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life cycle of stars. In his poem Bright Star John Keats wrote, "Bright Star, would I were steadfast as thou art". For Keats the stars were symbols of eternity- they were beautiful and ordered and unchanging - but modern astronomy tells a very different story. Stars, like everything else in the universe, are subject to change. They are born among vast swirls of gas and dust and they die in the stunning explosions we call supernovae. They create black holes and neutron stars and, in the very beginning of the universe, they forged the elements from which all life is made. But how do stars keep burning for millions of years, why do they self-destruct with such ferocity and what will happen to the universe when they all go out?

In Our Time: Black Holes

Stacks Image 3948
Updated February 24, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Black Holes. They are the dead collapsed ghosts of massive stars and they have an irresistible pull: their dark swirling, whirling, ever-hungry mass has fascinated thinkers as diverse as Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen Hawking and countless science fiction writers. When their ominous existence was first predicted by the Reverend John Mitchell in a paper to the Royal Society in 1783, nobody really knew what to make of the idea - they couldn’t be seen by any telescope. Although they were suggested by the eighteenth century Marquis de Laplace and their existence was proved on paper by the equations of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, it was not until 1970 that Cygnus X 1, the first black hole, was put on the astral map.

What causes Black Holes? Do they play a role in the formation of galaxies and what have we learnt of their nature since we have found out where they are?

Space Research and Exploration

Telescopes and Spectrographs

Stacks Image 607
This is an ebook from Open University.

This unit looks at how telescopes and spectrographs are designed to improve our ability to observe the universe. You will examine how different technologies have been developed over the last four hundred years to enable us to look deep into space. This study unit is just one of many that can be found on LearningSpace, part of OpenLearn, a collection of open educational resources from The Open University. Published in ePub 2.0.1 format, some feature such as audio, video and linked PDF are not supported by all ePub readers.

Xtronaut

Stacks Image 11354
Added April 5, 2017
Do you have what it takes to put together a space mission and race through the solar system? Identify your mission target and put together the right combination of rocket parts and spacecraft to achieve mission success.

Each player selects a Mission Card from the deck. This card determines the player’s mission – the mission destination, type of spacecraft needed, the amount of Delta-V needed to achieve the mission, the potential to obtain gravity assists, and the points earned for completing the mission. Each player needs to collect the Playing Cards that give them the right spacecraft, first and second stage rockets, and matching fairings. Gravity assist and solid rocket booster cards are available to provide additional Delta-V if needed to complete the assigned mission. Once the mission is complete, the player earns the points for the mission, which varies based on the size of the spacecraft and the target, and starts work on their next mission. The Action Cards add real-life issues to the game that space missions often encounter – project cancellations, audits, government shutdowns, and other exciting twists and turns.

XTRONAUT®: The Game of Solar System Exploration is a board game that is easy to learn, and gives 2 – 4 players ages 7 and up the chance to develop space missions, build authentic rocket systems, and explore the solar system. Designed by Professor leading major NASA OSIRIS-REx space mission, the game is fun and engaging, but also exposes players to space science concepts related to planning and undertaking a real space mission — complete with full color education workbook that explains game scientific concepts.

I haven’t tried this in the classroom myself, as I haven’t taught grade 9 science since I bought it, but it’s a fun game. The play is simple and a four person game takes about half an hour.

You could also use it solo as a tool for designing missions: students could sort through the cards and select the parts they need, looking at the tradeoffs between different options.

Universe Spacecraft Paper Models

Stacks Image 1319
Updated February 9, 2014
A series of simple model spacecraft from NASA. Ranging from easy to challenging, the models make a good starting point for the space research chapter.

Right now, there are several spacecrafts exploring our Universe. You can build paper versions of many of them right here on Earth.

Paper modeling - or card modeling - is the art of constructing things with only colored, cut and folded pieces of paper. To help in constructing each model, you will need the free Adobe Reader to print the instructions and model parts. A link to adobe.com is provided with each model.

Remember: Spacecraft construction is a team activity. Get some friends and an adult to pitch in on the mission. Now pick a ship to start your space fleet (or click on the spacecraft name to find out what the mission is all about).

Subaru Telescope Model

Stacks Image 1280
Updated February 9, 2014
Paper modelling is big in Japan, and Canon has many free paper models that can be printed on card stock and easily assembled with scissors and glue.

Japan's optical telescope discovers the farthest galaxy yet known, 12.8 billions of light years distant. Located on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan began astronomical observations in 1999. An altitude of 4,200 m, a dry atmosphere, and low atmospheric pressure make the summit of Mauna Kea one of the world's best places for astronomical observations. Based on the results of water flow tests, the Subaru Telescope was designed to allow efficient discharge of internal heat without taking in the outside air. It features a dome with a distinctive cylindrical shape.

H-2A Rocket Model

Stacks Image 1287
Updated February 9, 2014
Paper modelling is big in Japan, and Canon has many free paper models that can be printed on card stock and easily assembled with scissors and glue.

The first all-Japanese rocket. Developed using technologies obtained through the development of H-II, this is one of the world's most powerful rockets, used to launch satellites for cellular phone networks, the Internet, meteorological information gathering, and vehicle navigation. Test flights of the H-IIA 1, which features a diameter of 4 m and total height of 53 m, were completed successfully in August 2001, followed shortly thereafter by full-scale launching of artificial satellites. The H-IIA 9 was successfully launched in February 2006.

Orion Crew Vehicle Paper Model

Stacks Image 1332
Updated February 9, 2014
A nice paper model of a next-generation crew capsule.

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle will serve as our nation's next-generation exploration vehicle to expand human presence to asteroids, the moon, Lagrange points and missions to Mars. The Orion spacecraft includes both crew and service modules, a spacecraft connector, and a launch abort system to ensure the safety of the crew.

Download, print and build a model of this new vehicle.

International Space Station Model

Stacks Image 1346
Updated February 9, 2014
Designed to be built by students, this model is simple enough to make in a period. The web site has the model itself, instructions, and a video showing you what to do.

The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest and most complicated spacecraft ever built. It is being constructed by a collaboration of one hundred thousand people, hundreds of companies, and sixteen nations spread over four continents.

The space station is in a low Earth orbit and can be seen from Earth with the unaided eye. It orbits at an altitude of about 350 kilometres above the Earth and travels at an average speed of 27 700 kilometres per hour, orbiting the Earth 16 times a day!

Discovery: A Trip Around Mars with Kevin Fong 1/2

Stacks Image 5067
Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

The planet Mars boasts the most dramatic landscapes in our solar system. Kevin Fong embarks on a grand tour around the planet with scientists, artists and writers who know its special places intimately- through their probes, roving robots and imaginations. This first part of the journey includes Mars’ gargantuan volcanoes, an extreme version of Earth’s Grand Canyon and the cratered Southern Highlands where future explorers might find safety from the Red Planet’s deadly radiation environment.

Discovery: A Trip Around Mars with Kevin Fong 2/2

Stacks Image 5102
Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

Kevin Fong concludes his grand tour of the planet Mars, in search of water. Some of the most spectacular Martian landscapes were carved by vast and violent quantities of water in the planet’s past. The Tolkienesque terrain of Iani Chaos is one such place as is the great canyon Ares Valles.

Kevin also talks to scientists on the current Curiosity Mars rover mission about water in the deep history of Gale Crater and its central mountain Mount Sharp. The journey concludes with gullies on cliffs and craters, suggesting that water still gushes on the surface of Mars today. Could this mean that life exists on the Red Planet today?

Discovery: Last Man, First Scientist on the Moon

Stacks Image 5134
Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

Kevin Fong talks to one of the last two men on the Moon, 40 years after the final Apollo 17 mission blasted off on 7 December 1972. As an Apollo astronaut, Harrison Schmitt was special. He was was the only geologist ever to explore the lunar surface. The field work Dr Schmitt did, and the rocks he and his fellow astronauts brought back, revolutionised our understanding of the Moon and the Earth. Dr Schmitt also shares the human experience of running around another planet and explains why he thinks we should go back, and beyond.

Discovery: Square Kilometre Array Telescope

Stacks Image 5407
Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

Plans are advancing for the biggest radio on Earth, an array of up to 3000 radio telescopes across a continent. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will have its central core in either South Africa or Western Australia, but its spiral arms of outlying giant dishes will reach out 3000 km in every direction. Astronomer Dr Lucie Green hears how it could search for habitable planets, intelligent life and new-born galaxies.

Discovery: Nakhla meteorite

Stacks Image 5468
Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

On 28 June 1911 an explosion erupted in the sky over the Nakhla region of Alexandria in Egypt.

A chunk of rock, about the size of a football, had broken away from the surface of Mars several million years ago.

It floated around the Solar System until eventually the Martian rock was pulled into our planet's gravitational field.

When it fell to Earth a century ago, eyewitnesses saw an explosion high in the atmosphere, as the meteor split into dozens of fragments which hurtled towards them and were buried up to a meter deep in the ground.

These precious rocks are now being used by scientists to ground-truth data sent back from Spirit and Opportunity - the two rovers currently exploring the Martian surface.