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Space: From Identifying Emissions from Space, to Black Holes, to the Apollo Program, and More

Posted on January 22 2023

Space: From Identifying Emissions from Space, to Black Holes, to the Apollo Program, and More


Dear Educator,

NASA recently reported that they can track and pinpoint CO2 emissions from space, utilizing a combination of satellite information and measurements made from the International Space Station. Space-based observations give humans greater ability to track sources of carbon dioxide. With this news, Maps101 is turning our attention beyond Earth—toward outer space. Mankind’s connection to objects in space began with the Apollo landing on the moon. Human interest in the stars, however, began perhaps as early as the first civilizations, when the stars were clearly visible in the night sky everywhere. Even with new technology, satellites, launches, cameras, and missions, there is much to explore about space. Let’s take a look at outer space with Maps101.
Our first stop is this week’s topic: pinpointing CO2 emissions from space. Through NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) missions, scientists have been able to identify locations with high emissions. This article explores the relationship between coal and electricity and how power plants contribute to CO2 emissions. Students will also discover the different types of coal and the amount of carbon each contains.

Outer space encompasses far more than our solar system, the “nearby” planets that revolve around our sun. But our solar system is an excellent place to begin any discussion of space. This map is for elementary students, but it is applicable to any student as a reminder of what is found in our planetary system. Use it to refresh students or test their prior knowledge about the solar system.


This virtual Field Trip takes a deeper dive into our solar system, giving students more information about each planet. Field Trips can be projected on the whiteboard or assigned individually or in groups. Conduct a poll to answer which planet, besides Earth, students are most interested in. Have students explain why they chose that planet. If necessary, they can do further research to support their opinion with facts.


Students should recall that Venus is Earth’s neighbor next closest to the sun, which makes it considerably hotter than Earth. This GNN article explores more about that hot planet. Students will learn the similarities of the two planets, and the accompanying map identifies key features on Venus. Scientists are interested in studying Venus as it may bring clues to better understanding Earth.


Next, let’s take a look the Red Planet, Mars. It is Earth’s other immediate neighbor, but it is farther from the sun. People have been fascinated with this planet, imagining that life may have existed there in the past. This article is written at a level meant to engage upper elementary students.


A black hole is an object in space that develops when the center of a massive star collapses on itself. Black holes have a far more concentrated mass than Earth, creating an enormous gravitational pull. In fact, not even light can escape their gravity. Because of this, black holes are a fascinating part of the universe that has captured our collective imagination. Learn more about one particular black hole that is located 25,000 light years away!


Human exploration of objects in space became a reality with the Apollo program and Neil Armstrong taking the first walk on the moon. This GNN article focuses on that monumental occasion in which most on Earth were riveted by the news on their televisions. Because the Apollo landing was long enough ago, generations since may not realize the impact it had. Encourage students to interview someone who watched the Apollo landing live. Students can then gain a better understanding of how pivotal the Apollo Mission was. Is there a more recent event that students identify with as being key to their generation? Is it a positive step forward or a step backward, from their point of view? How do generation gaps develop?


This interactive Field Trip covers topics from the earliest ability to explore space with satellites, the Apollo Program, different countries entering space exploration, to plans for future journeys into space. You can use the comprehension quiz to ensure students have understood the main ideas of the Field Trip. We also suggest you assign a panel from the 10 featured in the Field Trip for students to conduct further research about and present what they have learned to the class. This could be done individually or in groups.


We hope you have enjoyed this mini-sample of Maps101 content about space, planets, and the night sky. This is by no means a complete listing, but it will give you an idea of the type of content available with your subscription. We hope your weekly tour of topics in the GeoJournal helps not just inform you of themes you can focus on throughout the year, but that it also draws your attention to content you may not have realized is available. Happy hunting for more content that benefits your class this school year. And don’t forget to favorite to save what you use often for easy access.

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