The EUVE Orbit

by Del Spicer and Leslie Dietiker

1995 The Regents of the University of California

An Introduction...


This lesson plan implements elements of modern astrophysics in math classes for high school students. Information obtained from the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) NASA Satellite may be used as an application for learning about periodic functions such as sine and cosine in algebra or geometry classes.


The students will study the nature of a satellite's orbit around the Earth. An orbit is the path or trajectory traveled by one object with respect to another and, in our case, it describes the EUVE satellite's revolution about the Earth. Students will see the relationship between such an orbit and the position of the EUVE satellite directly above geographical points on the Earth. Students will use this lesson plan to obtain data directly from the EUVE satellite, in the form of the position of the EUVE above the Earth as a function of time. Students will then be able to graph the position of the EUVE satellite on a map of the world.

The EUVE satellite offers a wonderful opportunity for students to see a real application of math, to ask questions about how satellites stay in orbit and to see how mathematics provides a tool for analyzing information about space astrophysics satellite missions.


This lesson has several objectives:

Grade Level:

This lesson is appropriate for 9th or 10th graders in introductory math classes or geometry. However, it may be taught in advanced math classes for 11th and 12th graders, with emphasis on trigonometric functions and their graph representations


The students are expected to have the following skills or knowledge:

For a lesson of this nature more appropriate for elementary school students, please refer to:
 What's Your Sign? The Science Behind the Zodiac
by Beth Napier

For more information about this lesson plan:


Lesson Plan


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