Astronomy Unit 3 Assignment: Planning an ISS Experiment

Unit 3 Assignment: Planning an ISS Experiment

Planning experiments is a very valuable skill for scientists, and the International Space Station has provided an incredibly unique environment for experimentation. In many of the other labs in this course, you’re tasked with carrying out a specific experiment or set of instructions. In this assignment, your whole job is to plan an experiment from scratch!

The “zero gravity” environment of the space station can make for a lot of interesting experiments, but that’s just a starting point and you can go in another direction if you’d like. As long as your experiment can only be done in space, it will count for this assignment!

Imagine you’re a NASA scientists proposing an experiment that will be conducted on the ISS. You have to complete a Research Proposal that contains the following information (not necessarily in this order):

Research Question: What is your research question?

Background and Justification: Is there any background information that would be necessary for the astronauts conducting this experiment? What is it? Why is this experiment important?

Variables: What is your independent variable (the quantity you’re changing)? What is your dependent variable (the quantity you’re measuring)?

Constants: What factors have to be kept constant during your experiment? How will you make sure they are kept constant?

Assumptions: Will you be making any assumptions during your experiment? What are they? How would the outcome of your experiment be affected if you assumed incorrectly?

Materials: What materials will you need? Is there anything special you’d have to bring up from Earth?

Procedure: Create a detailed, step-by-step procedure for the astronauts who will conduct the experiment. Make sure they know how to set up the experiment, what measurements they’re taking and with what frequency, as well as how and where to record information.

Data processing: Once you have your data, what will you do with it? Will you make a graph, and if so, what will it tell you? Will you run a secondary experiment based off the results of the first? How can your data be used back on Earth or on the space station?

For more information about submitting assignments. Please read the document at the beginning of the course – ‘submitting your assignments’.

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