Today you are going to need to think like an engineer. Many of the people who work at NASA are engineers. Engineers at NASA design instruments to help scientists discover things.
Here is your design problem for today. How can you design a spacecraft that will make it all the way to Saturn - 800 million miles away from Earth? To design your spacecraft, you and your design team are going to work together and make decisions about the following things.
• How will you protect the spacecraft in the icy cold temperature of deep space?
• How will you control and keep in touch with your spacecraft?
• How will you keep the spacecraft safe if it is hit by a space particle (a micrometeoroid, dust particle, or ring particle)?
• What do you want the spacecraft to try to find out at Saturn?
• Do you think you should send humans on the spacecraft? If you think you should send humans, how will they survive? [Prompts: Food and water for 7 years? Bathroom/waste? Air?]
• What are some problems that might be encountered with the spacecraft on the journey to Saturn?
• What will you name your spacecraft?
• Why did you choose that name?
There are two NASA student-friendly interactive websites to see spacecraft and to virtually design and build a spacecraft of your own:
Once you think of possible solutions to these design problems, your design team will draw a sketch of your Saturn spacecraft. Remember to include everyone's ideas!