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Grade: Middle
Subject: Science

#4076. Shuttle Orbits (Student Sheets)

Science, level: Middle
Posted Thu Jan 10 13:55:35 PST 2008 by National Aeronautics and Space Exploration Agency (NASA) ().
NASAExplores - Chip Off the Old Rock
Washington, DC
Materials Required: World globe, Large rubber bands, Ruler, Calculator
Activity Time: 1 class
Concepts Taught: Globe, shuttle orbit

Ages: 8 - 11 years


Using the globe, locate the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Place a rubber band around the globe so that the rubber band crosses through the launch site. Imagine that the rubber band is a disk. Move it so that the plane of the disk passes directly through Earth's center. Look at how the rubber band is inclined to Earth's equator.

Place a second rubber band around the globe so that it runs through the launch site and is inclined at approximately 57 degrees to the equator. This is the highest Shuttle inclination flown.

Imagine that the orbit of the Shuttle is 300 kilometers above Earth's surface. How high would the Shuttle be above the globe? To do this, you will have to figure out the scale of the globe, and then determine how high the Shuttle would be if placed at its scale altitude. (Earth's diameter is approximately 12,740 kilometers.)

Hold the globe near your partner's eye at the scale distance of the Shuttle's orbit. Ask your partner to estimate how much of the Earth is visible at one time. What would happen if the Shuttle's altitude were doubled?

Why is it that the Arctic and Antarctic regions of Earth are not studied by Space Shuttle astronauts?