Looking for New Planets

NASA's Kepler space telescope has discovered these Earth-like exoplanets, along with many others.
Artist's rendering of the planets in the Kepler system. They are similar or a bit larger when compared to the size of Earth.
"Exoplanet" is the term for any planet outside of our solar system.

Pack a Space Telescope - Activity Outline PDF
Scientists and engineers use complex origami to fold space telescopes into rocket fuselages. Fold your own telescope into a model rocket! Instead of the PVC tube they use, try using toilet paper or paper towel tubes for the rocket and decorate it!

Exoplanet Transits - Activity Outline PDF
Scientists can find exoplanets by looking for their shadow passing in front of the star they orbit. See what you can learn about a hidden object by studying its shadow!

  • NASA videos with animations explain this method of searching for exoplanets and go further to talk about using spectral analysis to determine the chemicals in the planet's atmosphere. 
  • If you happen to have access to a telescope with an electronic light sensor, NASA has released open-source code for analyzing the light of a star to see if it has exoplanets using this method. Learn more here.

The Wobble Method - Activity Outline PDF
One way to find exoplanets is by looking for the motion of the star as it is pulled by the gravity of the orbiting planet. Try it out with a fun model activity!

Star Maps: Where are the Distant Worlds? - Activity PDF
 Use a star map to find constellations and to identify stars with extrasolar planets. This activity is from the Night Sky Network.

Drawing of what the James Webb Space Telescope will look like in space.

 


 

NASA Space Science Education Consortium logo.This project was funded under NASA cooperative agreement NNX16AL65A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
All photos from NASA unless otherwise credited.