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We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.

Exploratour - Life in the Solar System

This is an image of Comet Kohoutek.
Click on image for full size
NASA

Believe it or not, many scientists believe that life may have begun on these distant, solar system traveling objects. Out in their distant home, the Oort Cloud, comets are exposed to the kind of cosmic radiation which provides the energy needed to form long, complex molecules such as amino acids, proteins, and even polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's). Spectra taken of recent comets such as this one in 1990 reveal the presence of ...

As we've said, because of the severe temperatures, it may take millions of years for these molecules to form, thus precluding the possiblity of the activity of life forms as sophisticated as bacteria. Moreover, there is no atmosphere to speak of in comets in residence in the Oort cloud, and only a transient atmosphere in comets making a perihelion passage. Nevertheless, over the age of the solar system, and because comets making a perihelion passage loose a portion of their friable surface, it is thought that comets may have brought some of life's beginnings to the inner solar system where they could better thrive.

Read more about this possibility by reading our life section. Read more about the sort of unsophisticated life forms found on the primordial Earth by taking the Exporatour of Life on Earth.

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Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Even though the sleeping man is no longer on the bed, you can still see where he was lying down. The heat from his body warmed up the bed sheets which are now radiating infrared light toward your eyes....more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

All warm objects radiate in the infrared. The warmer the object, the higher the frequency and intensity of the radiation. Very hot objects give off other types of radiation in addition to infrared. Click...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Your eye is a wonderful detector of visible light. Different frequencies of light produce different sensations in the eye which we interpret as colors. Our eyes detect light by using light sensitive components...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Imagine you found a pair of special glasses that not only gave you telescopic vision but gave you the ability to see all forms of radiant energy. The universe in visible light contains all the familiar...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

The awesome power of a giant black hole was revealed by looking at this galaxy in three different types of light. The picture that you see is of Centaurus A, a very peculiar galaxy. A galaxy is just a...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a plant in Gary, Indiana where power is made. We use power to run things like television sets, radios, lights, and microwave ovens. The picture looks very strange because it was taken in infrared....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA