When the students have an understanding of the planet Mars
and some of the problems associated with sending people on extended duration
missions over large distances, they will be guided through discussions in which
they will plan their own mission. They are provided with both weight and monetary
constraints and guidelines as to the cost and weight of mission elements, and
asked to draw up a mission plan that best satisfies their mission aims. The
results of their missions will then be presented to the rest of the class, and
the details put on the team web pages.
The Mission Planning module can be used as the concluding part of the whole Mars in the Classroom project, or as a stand alone practical. It should be noted, however, that a certain amount of prior knowledge (such as some idea of what the globe of Mars looks like and a broad understanding of planetary subjects such as impact cratering, volcanoes and geological vocabulary) is assumed. The project will take about two hours and is entirely paper based. This is another reason why it is best run after a series of practicals, so that the students can apply what they have learned experimentally to an abstract, 'pen and paper' exercise.
This experiment requires some knowledge of the planet Mars and Mars exploration. You can find out more about these things from our Mars information web pages.