The search for life off Earth comes under the multi disciplinary approach taken in astrobiology. In this series of activities we look at how life developed on Earth and what clues we can take from that to understand how life might develop elsewhere in the Solar System.
Landforms: In this activity we show how different landforms can be identified from high resolution imagery of Mars to try and work out the history of the planet and its suitability for past life. In particular we use this identify ancient water channels on Mars and to talk about atmospheres. For this activity we use either the planetarium or a big screen suitable for showing high resolution imagery of Mars. This is a classroom based activity and we leave the resources with the school so you can easily find high resolution imagery of planets yourself from the various free resources.
Hot springs: We have a range of samples collected from hot springs covering a geological period up to 1 million years. We use these to demonstrate how microbial life is fossilised and how quickly it degrades. In this activity we get students to describe what they are seeing on the rocks; the textures, shapes, colours etc. This is an indoor activity (where there’s a geothermal area nearby we do field trips, unfortunately there’s none near Porirua).
Sensors: This is the activity where we use our European Space Agency designed rovers to demonstrate how sensors are placed near to sites of interest. Students can operate the rovers through a variety of scenarios. This is an indoor activity that can be done in the classroom.