Welcome to the final lab activity of GEO 101C! In the first part of this week’s lab, we will leave Earth behind and venture to our neighboring planet of Mars. Using Google Mars, we will explore the terrain of the Red Planet, looking at evidence of past water flow across its surface. In the second part of the lab, you will build a spectrometer, a device for observing the spectra of different light sources. Spectrometers enable astronomers to determine the composition of distant stars, as well as how far away they are from us. Before beginning this lab, take a few minutes to review the list of materials required to complete Part 2, on page 6.
Your final product for this lab will be a lab report. It is not necessary to submit this worksheet. Your report should cover all of the questions you have answered here (in paragraph essay form, not question and answer format). It should discuss how these two tools – Google Mars and spectrometers – can be used to study distant places (planets and stars).
Part 1: Water on Mars
Begin by clicking here (Links to an external site.) to open the website containing the location files you will use this week. Under “Other Materials”, click on “Placemarks – Mars Fluvial Features” to download the file to your computer. Once it is downloaded, open it, and it should open automatically in Google Earth Pro.
Once Mars appears, you’ll have a different set of layers from Google Earth to explore. The Global Maps layer can be used to change the surface layer (you may have to expand this folder to see these options): use the radio button to choose the layer and click the blue layer name to bring up a brief description of that dataset. The “Visible Imagery” contains the highest quality images, but the Viking Color Imagery layer is more uniform and may be easier to use in some places. The Daytime Infrared, Nighttime Infrared, and Colorized Terrain are interesting to explore but will not be used here.
Part 2: Light from the Stars (Building a Spectrometer)
The instructions below describe how to build a spectrometer. Here is a link if you wish to view the site where the instructions are from: Lab, Camera, Action: Make your own CD spectrometer (Links to an external site.).
Our spectroscope has three main parts. There is a slit made from a razor blade to make a path for the light, a diffraction grating made from a CD disk, and a viewing port.
To construct your spectroscope, you need to put a slice in one side of the box at roughly a 30-degree angle. This will hold the CD. Place the CD in the slot to determine where to place the other two cuts. On the top of the box, cut a hole about half an inch to an inch square above the CD. On the side opposite the CD, make a very narrow slit opposite the CD. Alternatively, you can cut a larger slit, and cover it with 2 pieces of foil to control the size of the slit. Spectroscope complete!
Photograph your finished spectrometer and include the photo in your lab report.
Once you have assembled your spectroscope with the instructions in the lecture and above, use it to examine the spectra of three different light sources. Make sure that at least one of them is the sun or moon, but the others can be incandescent lights, compact fluorescent bulbs, LED lights, halogen or xenon bulbs, televisions, computer screens, candles, fireplaces, etc. Aim the slit towards the light source you are investigating, then look through the viewing hole to see the spectrum on the disk.
Answer the following questions:
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