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The Dynamic Space Environment

Each activity or resource is labeled by access mode:

Requires computer access
Requires downloading from the Web
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Main Topics & Concepts
  • Space is a dynamic environment
  • Investigating Sun-Earth connections
  • How conditions in space affect Earth and space exploration
This topic applies to California state standards 2d in 9th grade Earth Science. 

Science Probe Text
Science Probe II 4.1 Magnetic Fields and Forces

Activities & Lessons
Activity Access Description
Soda Bottle Magnetometer


paper  Create a simple instrument that shows the direction of the Earth's magnetic field.


web Auroras are beautiful manifestations of space conditions in Earth's ionosphere, often triggered by solar activity. A non-technical site about the cause of auroras and their origin in Sun-Earth space. Lots of pictures, and qualitative introduction to solar wind.

Satellite Glitches and Cosmic Rays


web  Students will correlate the frequency of electronic 'glitches' in the NASA TDRS-1 communications satellite, against the cosmic ray intensity and examine how satellites can be affected by cosmic rays.

Solar Wind Velocity

SOHO Mission Education

paper Students interpret CELIAS solar wind velocity graphs and EIT solar images, appropriate for grades 9-12. Download data procedure and student instructions.

X-ray Candles: Solar Flares on Your Birthday

HESSI mission EPO program

webpaper Students "discover" the solar cycle through an investigation of solar x-ray flares. Using x-ray data from the GOES satellite they record the number of flares in their birth month over 10 years. Students then compute the percentage of high class flares which occur for each year and graph their findings to help identify the long term pattern of flare activity on the Sun.

Radiation Exposure on a Trip to Mars


book Students will plan a trip to Mars in the next century and calculate the total radiation dose the astronauts will receive. They will compare this total dose against other health risks. 

*Astronomical Society of the Pacific Ordering info $$     **Science Education Gateway for teachers

Resources Access Description

Remote Sensing of the Global Environment

Michigan Tech University

web Crossover point with Earth science: satellites and remote sensing technology used to monitor and study Earth. Basic information on remote sensing and imaging, plus links to many satellite programs.

NASA/Bishop Web Works

web  Current space conditions, definitions of the language of solar flares and geomatgnetic storms, recent events, picture galleries. This site can help you follow a solar event through its arrival at Earth's magnetosphere and its effects in terms of auroras, communications, satellites, etc.

Space Envirnoment Center

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

web Provides near-real time solar-terrestrial data in a variety of formats including solar images, text reports, data lists, and data plots. Site also has an education page with a number of classroom resources, FAQ, and glossary of space weather terms.

The Magnetosphere


web In a series of tutorials, this web page explains the magnetic fields that surround the Earth, magnetic storms (aurora), ions, electromagnetic waves, the history of discovery, and much more. The amount of detail at this Web site makes it more suitable for teachers than for students. However, students working on a project on the Earth's magnetic field will find a gold mine of information.

Solar max 2000

NASA, Exploratorium, Japan Science Foundation, Unisys

web With the exception of a cosmic ray here and there, the Sun completely dominates our local space environment. Use this site as a guide to solar activity and its effects on space in the year of the most recent solar maximum. Numerous links to articles, press releases, images of the Sun in various wavelengths, and explanations of sunpots, solar events and the solar cycle

Auroras 2000 


web All things auroral: predictions, photos, satellite images at visible and UV wavelengths, and lots of links to more information