Solar System Experiments

Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

Having the right temperature is an important criteria for life on Earth. Today, we're going to experiment to find out how distance from the Sun affects the temperature on different planets.


Research Question: How does the distance from the Sun affect surface temperature?
Age: Elementary school and up
Time to Complete: 1 hour
Safety Concerns: Lamps can get hot over time. Never touch a light bulb that has recently been turned on with your bare hands.
Independent Variable: Distance from light source
Dependent Variable: Temperature
Controlled variables:
Type of light source, type of thermometer

The search for life on other planets has been an endless quest since space travel first started. However, so far no life has been found in our solar system or others. In their search, scientists look for planets that might have similar conditions to Earth. They're interested in small planets that are a particular distance away from the Sun with a molten core like Earth.

Gaseous planets like Saturn or Jupiter certainly don't support life, so scientists infer that other gaseous planets won't either. But, planets with a rocky core like Mercury also haven't shown any signs of life. For more infromation on the possibility of life on other planets, you can read this lesson: Is There Life on Other Planets?

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