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LRO Communication Design Challenge

Topographic map of the Einstein and Einstein A craters on the moon

Product Type: Lesson Plan/Activity
Audience: Educators, Informal Education
Grade Levels: 5-8
Year: 2013
Subjects: Earth Science

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is a spacecraft carrying scientific instruments that collect data and store them as digital information on LRO's computer. The spacecraft's antenna transmits the data back to Earth. On Earth, a radio telescope receives the data and sends it to scientists' computers. The scientists then convert the data into useful information.

In this activity, students work as teams to do the following:

  • Learn how scientists and engineers design and build spacecraft like the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to collect, store and transmit data to scientists on Earth.
  • Use readily accessible materials to design a system to store and transmit topographic data of the moon collected by the LRO.
  • Analyze lunar topographic data.

The activity is performed in four phases:

  1. Design and Build: Teams design the code to use for data storage and build the transmission device.
  2. Test: Teams test every step of collecting, storing, transmitting, receiving and analyzing data, and they make necessary changes to their equipment.
  3. Operation: Teams collect, transmit, receive and analyze data.
  4. Analysis: Teams finish analyzing their data, and then all teams synthesize all the data into a single image.

Background information and student sheets are included.

LRO Communication Design Challenge [3MB PDF file]

Page Last Updated: December 10th, 2014
Page Editor: Flint Wild