Space geeks think of the letters “EDL” as SHORTHAND ( a method of rapid writing using abbreviations) for the CRUCIAL ( decisive or critical, especially in the success or failure of something) mission phase called entry, descent, and landing—but in the NASA world, it is also known as the seven minutes of terror. NASA stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
NASA has been preparing to put its next rover ( a motor vehicle that travels across the surface of the planet), named Perseverance, safely on MARS, the red planet. The one-ton space robot will attempt a daring landing that involves HURLING ( throwing with great force) into the Mars atmosphere at about 12,000 miles an hour, then using thrusters to slow its descent and guide it to a safe landing zone, and then be lowered to the surface at a gentle 2 miles an hour by a giant crane.
Spell AERONAUTICS Spell DESCENT Spell CRUCIAL
Name one of the words in the abbreviation NASA. NATIONAL, AERONAUTICS SPACE, ADMINISTRATION.
What is the abbreviation for the phrase entry descent and landing? EDL
What is the name of the flagship Rover? PERSEVERANCE
What planet is known as the red planet? MARS
How many pounds is one ton? 2000
Perseverance will enter the atmosphere on Mars at how many miles an hour? 12,000
What did the story say is used to slow its descent? THRUSTERS
At what speed does a giant crane lower the rover on Mars’s surface? 2 miles an hour
The space agency has only pulled off this MANEUVER (a series of moves requiring skill and care) once before when the “sky crane” system set down another rover named Curiosity on the GALE CRATER ( a crater and probable dry lake on planet Mars) in 2012. It worked then, but there’s no guarantee it will work now. Engineers chose the landing zone for Curiosity in part because it is an EXPANSE ( a wide continuous surface) of relatively flat terrain—a perfect “parking lot” free of hazards. By contrast, the landing zone for the rover Perseverance, inside a dried-out LAKEBED called JEZERO CRATER, is filled with boulders and cliffs that could spell doom for an unprepared rover. This time, the spacecraft in question is headed down with detailed onboard maps and a suite of cameras that should help it avoid CATASTROPHE ( an event causing great damage or disaster).
Spell GUARANTEE Spell TERRAIN Spell PERSEVERANCE
What was the name of the previous space rover that landed on Mars? CURIOSITY
Where on Mars did the Curiosity land? THE GALE CRATER
What is another word for a series of moves requiring skill or care? MANEUVER
What year did Curiosity land on Mars? 2012
Name one of the descriptions of the landing zone chosen for the Curiosity to land. WIDE SURFACE, FLAT TERRAIN, PERFECT PARKING LOT, FREE OF HAZARDS
What did the rover Perseverance land on? JEZERO CRATER
Name something that can be dangerous for an unprepared rover. BOULDERS, CLIFFS
Name one of the 9 planets in our solar system.
What is another word for disaster? CATASTROPHE
What do you think a planet must have in order to sustain life?
Success! NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars!
Perseverance confirmed its safe arrival with a signal relayed to Earth VIA (traveling thru something) the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter—and it sent its first photos from its PERCH (a place where something rests or sits ) on the surface. At NASA’s Jet PROPULSION (the action of driving or pushing forward) Laboratory in California, there was much JUBILATION (a feeling of great happiness and triumph)! The rover’s mission is an AMBITIOUS ( a strong desire and determination to succeed) one. They want to seek signs of ancient life on the red planet. It will be the first of NASA’s five rovers to sniff around for traces of inhabitants of a world that, for its first billion years or so, was warmer and wetter than the dusty planet we see today.
Spell ANCIENT Spell BILLION Spell MISSION
What did Perseverance send to Earth to confirm its safe arrival? A SIGNAL
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter sent what to Earth? PHOTOS
Name one word used to describe Mars billions of years ago. WARMER, WETTER
What is the ambitious mission of the rover? TO SEEK SIGNS OF ANCIENT LIFE
How many zeros are in a billion? 1,000,000,000 (9)
How is the planet Mars described in the story? DUSTY
What is another word for Jubilation? HAPPINESS
If you discovered a planet, what would you name it?
To help scientists search for clues that Mars might have been a living planet, Perseverance will stuff its pockets with rock samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for detailed SCRUTINY (study with critical observation) sometime within the next decade. The answer to whether life ever existed on Mars could be locked inside those SOUVENIRS (a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event). Or, if scientists get really lucky, the rover could find answers as it aims its many instruments at Jezero’s formerly watery TERRAIN (a stretch of land).
The ARID ( a climate having little or no rain) landscapes we see today are in all likelihood uninhabited, but billions of years ago, water pooled and flowed over the MARTIAN ( relating to the planet Mars or its possible inhabitants) surface. Life, if it could take hold, had a chance to thrive. And now, finally, we could find out if aliens once RESIDED ( having one’s home in a particular place) on the red planet!
Spell DECADE Spell TERRAIN Spell MARTIAN
What will the rover Perseverance stuff its pockets with? ROCKS
What will happen to the rocks when they are returned to Earth? They will be studied
How long will it take to study the samples? A decade/ 10 years
What word is used to describe the kind of climate that exists on Mars? ARID
What do they say happened on Mars a billion years ago? WATER POOLED, AND WATER FLOWED OVER MARS
What can this mission find out about Martians? IF THEY ONCE RESIDED/LIVED ON MARS
Name something else scientists might study.
This illustration shows the events that occur in the final minutes of NASA’s Perseverance rover before it landed on the Martian surface.
Watch an epic journey unfold on Thursday, Feb. 18, as our Perseverance rover lands on Mars. To reach the surface of the Red Planet, the rover has to survive the harrowing final phase known as Entry, Descent, and Landing. (EDL) https://youtu.be/M4tdMR5HLtg
Pretend that astronomers have discovered friendly beings on a distant planet called Crimson. They would like to send a “welcome package” from Earth to the residents of Crimson, and you have been recruited as a representative of America to help decide what to send.
What would your welcome package contain? Write a brief description of what you would send to the aliens of Crimson.
Now make a list of the items below that will help Crimson understand life on Earth!
- Three items that represent modern life in America
- Three news stories about important moments in American history
- Three foods that represent American culture
- Three miscellaneous items of your choice
- Three descriptions of unique Earthling habits
(examples: birthday parties, spelling bees, having pets, collecting seashells, dancing, parades, building snowmen)