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Exploratour: Life on Mars?

Short-eared owl
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Corel Photography

What is Life?

This tour wouldn't be complete without looking at...What is life? Does this seem like a strange question to you? Well, let's think about it. If you had to explain to someone what "life" is, what would you tell them?

Do all living things move? Do they eat and breathe? Even though we all seem to know what is meant by saying something is "alive", it's not very easy to describe what "life" is. It's almost as hard as describing where life came from.

The study of life is called "biology" and the people who study it are "biologists". They even have a tough time describing what life is! But after many years of studying living things, from the mold on your old tuna sandwich to monkeys in the rainforest, biologists have determined that all living things on Earth, do share some things in common:

1) Living things need energy
2) Living things grow and develop
3) Living things respond to their surroundings
4) Living things reproduce



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Cool It! Game

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Look at the bed below the body of the sleeping man. 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 (not just people) release infrared light. Warmer objects give off more infrared light. Very hot objects radiate other types of light as well. Click on the picture to see the infrared...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

What kinds of light can people see? Our eyes can see visible light. When it passes into our eyes different types of visible light create different sensations that we see as colors. ...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

This is a picture of a galaxy in visible light. A galaxy is a large number of stars, some like our sun, some bigger, some smaller and all moving together through space. This galaxy is called Centaurus...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