Using the Web

Go to planetary astronomer Mike Brown’s website of dwarf planets ( How many dwarf planets does he think are in the Solar System? Why is it difficult to officially certify an object as a dwarf planet?
Space missions:

Go to the website for the Dawn mission ( Click on “Multimedia” and then “Video/Audio” to view one of the videos of Vesta. What was learned about Vesta on this mission? Click on “Mission” and “Where is Dawn Now?” Where is Dawn, and where is it going?
Go to the website for the New Horizons mission (, scheduled to reach Pluto in 2015 and visit Kuiper Belt objects afterward. Click on “Mission” and then “Where is New Horizons?” What is the spacecraft’s current location? What planet’s orbit is it closest to? How far is it from Earth, and how far from Pluto? How long would it take to send a radio signal to the spacecraft? Click on “News Center.” What is new with the mission?
Go to the website for the Rosetta mission ( This en route mission is scheduled to be the first landing onto a comet. Where is the spacecraft now? Click on “67P/C-G.” What is the size of the comet (Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko)? Sketch the comet orbit, showing its closest and farthest approach to the Sun. Why has its perihelion changed over the past 200 years?
Go to NASA’s Asteroid Watch website ( What is new? Has there been a new discovery, or a recent flyby? Was the asteroid studied with a spacecraft, an orbiting telescope, or a ground-based telescope? What has been learned about the object?
Go to the Space Weather website ( Are any comets currently visible with the naked eye? Scroll down to “Near Earth Asteroids.” Are any “close encounters” coming up in the next few months? Click on a few asteroid names to access the JPL Small-Body Database, where you can view an animation of the orbits. In each case, how close will the NEO be to Earth when it is at its closest? Note the values of e and a in the table under the orbit. Calculate the NEO’s closest and farthest distances from the Sun.
Go to the website for the Science Channel’s TV series Meteorite Men (

Why is there a TV show about collecting meteorites? Watch an episode online. Do you think this TV show educates people about the Solar System?
Click on “Meteorites for Sale.” Which types of meteorites command the best prices? What does the site recommend you do if you think you have found a meteorite?

Submit to Gradebook:

First Name:
Last Name:
Your Email Address:
Your Professor's Email Address: