Space Junk

Course Overview

The International Space Station(ISS) recently sprang a “minute pressure leak” two millimeters wide.  While no official explanation has been made, one of the potential causes could be a small piece of space junk.  The US government currently tracks about 23,000 human-made objects floating in space that are larger than a softball.  These satellites and chunks of junk zip around the planet at more than 17,000 mph- approximately 10 times the speed of a bullet.
(Image Credit: iStock illustration)

Background information

In this course students are introduced to the range of scientific thinking around space junk. What is the Kessler syndrome? Is Gossner correct in his beliefs with comments such as,

“Our current plan is to manage the problem and not let it get that far, I don’t think that we’re even close to needing to
actively remove stuff. There’s lots of research being done on that, and
maybe some day that will happen, but I think that – at this point, and
in my humble opinion – an unnecessary expense.”

How we can utilise scientific knowledge to determine the best solution? Students apply their learning to solve a series of quizzes
and to explore 3D planetary interactives.  This is a stand-alone

Prior knowledge

Students need a basic understanding of our solar system. This course
builds on students’ knowledge of the Earth’s place in the solar system
covered in the Year 5 Earth and Space sciences curriculum.

Learning intentions

  1. Students can identify and construct questions and problems that they can investigate scientifically.
  2. Students make predictions based on scientific knowledge.
  3. Students are able to use appropriate scientific language to communicate science ideas, methods and findings.
  4. Students are able to describe the environmental impact and issues surrounding space junk.

Time Allowance: 1.5 hours

Victorian Curriculum Descriptors

Science Understanding
  •  Scientific knowledge and understanding of the world changes as new evidence becomes available, science knowledge can develop through collaboration and connecting ideas across the disciplines and practice of science.
  • Science and technology contribute to finding solutions to a range of contemporary issues, these solutions may impact on other areas of society and involve ethical considerations.
Science Inquiry Skills
  • Use scientific knowledge and findings to identify relationships, evaluate claims and draw conclusions
  • Reflect on the method used to investigate a question or solve a problem, including evaluating the quality of the data collected, and identify improvements to the method.
Course Development Team Leader

 Jo Tate   (Image: ABC Education)