|The image from NASA's Juno website (Image credit NASA/JPL)|
My last post was on July 5, 2016 ("Juno's mission to Jupiter"). I know that it has been quite a while, but I'm now back to keeping in touch with other ESP teachers through this blog. I hope to - once again - post an idea about once a week.
In that last post, I wrote about the Juno spacecraft mission that is orbiting the planet Jupiter until summer 2017. On NASA's website for the Juno mission there is a lot of specific information about the technical aspects of the spacecraft and of the mission.
NASA's Juno mission website:
Section of website Spacecraft and Instruments:
The information from this section about what Juno's scientific payload consists of:
- a gravity/radio science system
- a six-wavelength microwave radiometer for atmospheric sounding and composition
- a vector magnetometer
- plasma and energetic particle detectors (JADE and JEDI)
- a radio/plasma wave experiment (Waves)
- an ultraviolet imager/spectrometer (UVS)
- an infrared imager/spectrometer (JIRAM)
- a color camera (JunoCam) to provide the public with the first detailed glimpse of Jupiter's poles
Interesting practice for students would be to describe what these instruments do and/or how they work.
The descriptions on the website section are short, but are good examples of how to succinctly explain the purpose/function of a scientific instrument. In addition, there are useful verb-noun collocations (which I have highlighted in boldface).
- Gravity Science and Magnetometers: Study Jupiter's deep structure by mapping the planet's gravity field and magnetic field.
- Microwave Radiometer: Probe Jupiter's deep atmosphere and measure how much water (and hence oxygen) is there.
- JEDI, JADE and Waves: Sample electric fields, plasma waves and particles around Jupiter to determine how the magnetic field is connected to the atmosphere, and especially the auroras (northern and southern lights).
- UVS and JIRAM: Using ultraviolet and infrared cameras, take images of the atmosphere and auroras, including chemical fingerprints of the gases present.
- JunoCam: Take spectacular close-up, color images.
There are also good examples of explaining the purpose or reason for certain features of the instruments' design. Some examples:
- ... spinning makes the spacecraft's ppointing extremely stable and easy to control.
- Juno will be the first solar-powered spacecraft designed by NASA to operate at such a great distance from the sun, thus the surface area of solar panels required to generate adequate power is quite large.
- Before launch, the solar panels will be folded into four-hinged segments so that the spacecraft can fit into the launch vehicle.
- Juno will avoid Jupiter's highest radiation regions by approaching over the north, ...
- With a mission design that avoids any eclipses by Jupiter, minimizes damaging radiation exposure and allows all science instruments to be taken with the solar panels facing the sun, solar power is a perfect fit for Juno.
- To protect sensitive spacecraft electronics, Juno will carry the first radiation shielded electronics vault, a critical feature for enabling sustained exploration in such a heavy radiation environment.
- This feature of the mission is relevant to NASA's Vision for Space Exploration, which addresses the need for protection against harsh radiation in space environments beyond the safety of low-Earth orbit.
While I tend to focus on useful language features of this information, my students find the information itself most interesting. And that, of course, increases their motivation to read the material.