Mission to the BLUE Planet: A Terrafirma Inquiry®


Introduction | Invitation | Exploration | Explanation | Taking Action | Conclusion


You are part of a team of planetary scientists and explorers contracted by a firm representing the OTHERWORLD, a planetary system from the star Alpha Centuri. Your team's task is to investigate various PHENOMENA that interest the Prime Scientific Society (PSS) of the OTHERWORLD. Your team should use Terrra Firma Data Bases available on the World Wide Web and on CD-Roms secured from the OTHERWORLD Resource Center. Your team will have to provide a written report to be submitted to the Prime Scientific Society Bulletin Board. You will also have to make presentation to a Representative of the Prime Scientific Society.


Imagine swooping into The Solar System in a space ship traveling at warp speed headed toward what your astronomers have called the BLUE PLANET. They are very interested in having your team study the planet remotely. Your team is also required not to do any harm to the Blue Planet and its inhabitants, and to be sure that you are not observed by the "intelligent" species inhabiting the planet. To insure this, you have been traveling in the "Stealth" Space Ship X-38(see below), the first known Stealth ship in the UNIVERSE. As you orbit the BLUE Planet, look "down" on its surface and discuss your first impressions with your team. In a sentence or two, write a journal entry in your Stealth Log, numbered entry 777230915. Click here when you are ready to write and send your message.

Stealth Space Ship from Alpha Centuri


Your team is going to remotely investigate Impact Craters, and one of the other Phenomena that you have contracted to study for the Prime Scientific Society:

  • Impact Craters
  • Quakes and Cracks in the planet's surface
  • Radical Temperature Changes in the BIG OCEAN
  • Volcanoes
  • Cyclones (Tornadoes or Hurricanes)

1. You will find the materials to set up an Impact Crater Research Site in your space ship. Use the materials and instructions located there to find how these features are formed on the BLUE Planet and its major satellite, THE MOON. Do this research first. Make sure that you make at least one digital photograph of your investigation, and load it onto your work station computer. Seek help if you are not sure how to do this, as well as copy images from the Internet.

2. Select one other Phenomenon from the Chart to investigate after completing your Impact Crater Research. Use the resources and database to provide the answers to the questions that the Prime Scientific Society wants answered.

  • You should file a brief report by sending it to the Prime Scientific Society on their Internet Bulletin Board,
  • Then, prepare a digital/low technology report which will be presented to the other researchers and the PSS's Representative. This means your team must download onto your "disk" one or more images to be used to answer the research questions.

BLUE Planet Phenomena Chart



Questions and Resources

BLUE Planet Databases

Impact Craters

Find out what are impact craters, how they form and key features of such sites

How do craters form? What are bolides? How does the mass of bolides affect the size and other features of impact craters?

Craters! Handout and Lab Materials

Crater Impact Sites on the World Wide Web

Crater Impact Sites on the Blue Planet

Quakes and Cracks

Study the pattern of earthquakes on the Blue Planet and provide visual data explaining the extent of quaking on the planet.

What is the pattern of earthquakes on the Blue Planet? What is the extent of the data base of Earthquakes established by the Intelligent Life on the Blue Planet? How can the point of an earthquake be located? What can you say about the energy released by Earthquakes?

Interesting Blue Planet Toy for simulating Earthquake waves

Earthquake Information Center for the Blue Planet

Earthquake Search Catalog Online

Earthquakes: Virtual Earthquake Site---How to locate the Epicenter of an Earthquake, and Information about the Magnitude of Earthquakes

Radical Temperature Changes in the BIG OCEAN.

Compare and contrast these phenomena and report on the predicted affects of the Blue Planet's weather patterns.

What are these radical temperature changes? How do they appear to affect the weather on the Blue Planet? The "Intelligent life" refers to these phenomena as El Nino and La Nina. Tell us how these are different. What seems to cause these differences? Provide a map view of each phenomena.

La Nina Phenomenon: Unusually Low Ocean Temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific

El Nino Phenomenon: Unusually High Ocean Temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific


Identify specific volcanoes and report on their activity and history and implications for the planet. See a volcano erupting.

What is a volcano? Where are volcanoes located on the Blue Planet? What is the shape and structure of volcanoes? What impact do volcanic eruptions have on the environment of the Blue Planet. Provide maps and images of this phenomena.

Volcano World on the Blue Planet

Volcano World Starting Points: Images and Search Tools for Finding Out About Blue Planet Volcanoes

Volcanoes Currently Erupting

Volcano: Live Pictures of Mt. Etna and other Volcanoes

Volcano Sites on the World Wide Web

Hurricanes and Tornadoes

Find out how hurricanes and tornadoes form, their patterns, and potential impact on the Blue Planet.

What do these phenomena look like from your space ship? What patterns seem to describe the behavior of hurricanes? Are these the same kind of phenomena as tornadoes? What can you tell us?

Hurricane Database

Hurricane Page from USA Today

Hurricane Andrew Landstat Image

Hurricane Movie

Tornado Information Data Base

Special site

Terra Server: Satellites Images all over the Blue Planet



Discuss your findings among members of your sub-team. What did you learn about the phenomena that you investigated? What does this tell you about the BLUE Planet? Summarize your findings and prepare for a digital and poster report. Your poster report should be set up as follows:



Key Questions





Taking Action

How do your findings compare to other planets that your research team has investigated or knows about? What are some important things that you could tell the "Intelligent" species on the BLUE Planet about this phenomenon and how your knowledge could be used to improve the quality of their life.


Hopefully you have learned some new things about the BLUE Planet. You might continue your research by checking data bases gathered by an earlier team that visited the BLUE Planet and actually landed in Roswell, New Mexico. You might also tune into one of the BLUE Planet's favorite TV show, the X-Files. Do you recognize anyone in the show?

Contact: Jack Hassard for questions or comments.