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Hands-on science.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

PREDICT

It takes time for satellite signals to travel between Earth and a spacecraft. How does a communication delay affect how quickly and accurately a task can be completed?

MATERIAL

bag of mixed beans* * quart-size zip bag * pint-size zip bag * paper bag * small Tupperware container * pen or pencil * set of instruction cards* *Teachers: See teacher's edition.

1) Before you begin, your teacher will instruct you about your mission during an "Astronaut Training" session. (Note: Teachers see TE 7 of this issue's teacher's edition for details.)

2) Your teacher will say "go" to signal the start of the activity.

3) Your team's mission control will hand instruction #1 to your team's satellite.

4) The satellite will deliver the instruction to its team's astronauts.

5) The instruction will explain the task the astronauts must complete. If the astronauts need more information, they can write one or more of the following questions on the back of their instruction card: How many samples of the substance should I collect? What does the substance look like? What type of collection container should I use?

6) The satellite will take the card back to mission control, which will write the answers on the card and send it back via satellite to the astronauts.

7) When the astronauts have completed the task, they will mark an "X" on the instruction card, send it back to mission control, and wait for the next instruction.

8) Repeat Steps 3 through 7 with instruction cards #2, #3, and #4. Continue until all four tasks have been completed.

9) When the last task is done, mission control should raise a hand.

10) The teacher will tell all teams to stop.

11) The teacher will check to make sure the team has collected the right amounts of each substance in the appropriate containers. If not, the team will be disqualified. The teacher will say "go" to restart the activity. The remaining teams will continue to complete their tasks until one team finishes the mission correctly.

CONCLUSIONS

1. How was the mission affected by the fact that mission control and the astronauts could communicate only via satellite rather than directly?.

2. If astronauts were to travel to Mars, the communications delay could be up to 20 minutes. Based on your observations, how could astronauts better communicate with people on Earth?

ANSWERS

1. By communicating through a satellite instead of directly with mission control, it took more time for the astronauts to complete their mission

2. Answers will vary. One possible answer: By going over the entire mission before takeoff. astronauts wouldn't have as many questions for mission control during the expedition
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:no lab required
Publication:Science World
Date:Oct 22, 2007
Words:440
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