Space Math @ NASA - Exploring the Surface and Interior of Mars

Common Core State Standards

Mathematics: Expressions and Equations

(8.EE.c.7) Analyze and solve linear equations and pairs of simultaneous linear equations
(HS.Modeling) Graphing utilities, spreadsheets, computer algebra systems, and dynamic geometry software are powerful tools that can be used to model purely mathematical phenomena as well as physical phenomena
(NGSS.MP.2) Reason abstractly and quantitatively
(NGSS.MP.4) Model with mathematics
(NGSS.HSN.Q.A.1) Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays


(RTS.11-12.1) Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
(RTS.11-12.2) Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

Next Generation Science Standards

Science and Engineering Practices

(HS-PS2-1) Analyze data using tools, technology or models (computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims
(HS-ESS1-1) Develop a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or components of a system
(HS-ESS1-2) Construct an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources including students own investigations, theories, simulations and peer review
(MS-ESS1-3) Analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the analysis of data from Earth-based instruments, space-based telescopes, and spacecraft to determine similarities and differences among solar system objects. Examples of scale properties include the sizes of an object’s layers (such as crust and atmosphere), surface features (such as volcanoes), and orbital radius. Examples of data include statistical information, drawings and photographs, and models.]

5E-Integrated STEM Modules

  • Marsquakes and Meteor Impacts on the Surface with SEIS Just as seismic waves from earthquakes can be used to probe the interior of our own planet, the impacts of large meteors along with marsquakes can help scientists probe the interior of Mars. To detect the internal activity of Mars, NASA's InSight Lander will carry a seismometer called SEIS to the surface of the Red Planet. The seismometer is extremely sensitive and can easily detect the impact of a 1-meter meteorite anywhere on the planet.
    [Resource Page ] | [5E Module Page ]
  • Exploring the Flow of Heat from the Core to the Surface with HP3 To take the temperature of Mars, which is a key indicator of planetary evolution, InSight will deploy a heat flow probe on the surface of Mars. The instrument will hammer five meters into the Martian subsurface to learn how much heat is coming from the interior or Mars and reveal the planet's thermal history.
    [Resource Page] | [5E Module Page ]
  • Exploring the Deep Interior of Mars with RISE To track the way Mars wobbles when it is pulled by the sun, an investigation called RISE will precisely measure the Doppler shift and ranging of radio communications sent between the InSight lander and Earth. By tracking this wobble over time, scientists can determine how material insice the planet is distributed and better understand how the planet is built.
    [Resource Page] | [5E Module Page ]
  • Library of Interactive Labs

    These are hands-on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that allow you to interact with plotted data, create mathematical models, and explore the relationships between mathematical quantities. Requires Excel version 2010 or higher. For a complete description of each ILab, visit the ILab archive [here].

    Math Problem Resource Guides

  • Mars Math (2012) 24 Problems An introduction to the planet Mars and some of the NASA missions that have studied this planet and its surface, including the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers and the much-awaited Curiosity Rover (2012). Problems include basic scales and proportions, fractions, scientific notion, algebra and geometry. [PDF: 7.7 Mby ]
  • Math Problem Resource Guides

  • Year of the Solar System Math Guide (2013) 164 Problems This collection of math problems covers the 20 science topic themes presented by the NASA/JPL Year of the Solar System website (Click Here) covering the solar system, planets, the search for life, and robotics. [PDF: 20.4 Mby ]