Ice On Venus? Home Teacher's Page Table of Contents More Teacher Info
Preparation Time: approximately 1/2 hour
Class Time: approximately 2 class periods
Students can find most of the essential challenges and instructions for this activity online by accessing the "Ice On Venus??" Home Page . You can facilitate as follows:
PartA: Pose the question, "Could there be water ice on Venus?"
After discussion of this question, have students find online info about conditions on Venus that will help answer that question.
If you have a slow Internet connection, you can advise your students to disable graphics/images before they go to the Venus Fact Sheet site.
When the students go to the Venus Fact Sheet, they will encounter an array of data (below). The critical data that they are asked to get are all in the "Venus Atmosphere" section. Here are some annotations for your benefit:
As far as the other data on the page goes, they are not required for this activity buyt there are some interesting things...see annotations below.
If students have time to visit the other sites listed, have them do so with the idea of reporting on what they find to the rest of the class. There is lot's of information about NASA missions to Venus such as Pioneer and Magellan.
Hand out a Venus map to each student and have them do the online activity of Part B: Find Evidence of "Ice" on Venus. A key issue to emphasize is that the images that the students will be looking at are NOT visible light images, but images constructed from radar data. If you (and your students) want more info about the intricacies of interpreting radar images, read the Guide to interpreting radar images. Students can find the link in "Part A."
Return to the basic question, "Is There Ice On Venus?" and accept any answers. Many students may "know" that there is no ice on Venus. If so, ask them how they know that.
As an assessment, have students write a paragraph or two about what the article means and what they think of the ideas contained in it.
Mass (1024 kg) [the 1024 actually is intended to mean 10 to the 24th power]
Volume (1010 km3) [1010 is supposed to be 10 the 10th power and km3 is cubic kilometers]
Equatorial radius (km) [radius at the equator]
Polar radius (km) [radius at the pole]
Volumetric mean radius (km)
Ellipticity [how far the planet deviates from a sphere]
Mean density (kg/m3)
Surface gravity (eq.) (m/s2) [eq. means at equator; s2 is seconds squared; m/s2 is unit of acceleration]
Escape velocity (km/s) [how fast you need to get going to leave the planet]
albedo is how well a surface reflects light
Visual magnitude is how bright an object appears
Solar irradiance (W/m2) watts per square meter
Black-body temperature (K) [this relates to the space AROUND the planet]
Topographic range (km) [the difference between the highest high and the lowest low onthe planet's surface]
Moment of inertia (I/MR2) [inertia of spin--depends on how fast the planet is spinning, its mass, and radius]
Semimajor axis (106 km) [since the orbit is an ellipse, "diameter" does
not exactly apply--semimajor axis would be the widest "diameter" of the
orbit; 106 actually is 10 to the 6th power]
Sidereal orbit period (days) [length of year--how long it takes to orbit the Sun--with respect to the stars]
Tropical orbit period (days) ??
Perihelion (106 km) [closest approach to the Sun; 106 actually is 10 to the 6th power]
Aphelion (106 km) [farthest distance from the Sun; 106 actually is 10 to the 6th power]
Synodic period (days) [roughly speaking, the time between closest approaches to Earth]
Mean orbital velocity (km/s)
Orbit inclination (deg) [how much the plane of the orbit deviates from that of Earth]
Orbit eccentricity [how much the orbit shape deviates from a circle]
Sidereal rotation period (hrs) [how long it takes to rotate--length of day--with respect to the stars]
Equatorial inclination (deg) [how much the equator is tilted with repect to the orbit plane]
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Updated August 02, 2000