Rock Around the World
Grade Level: 4-9
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
and Arizona State
Adapted with permission.
Scientists need your help. Those studying Mars are asking students from
around the world to help them understand "the red planet." Send
in a rock collected by you or your classroom from your region of the world,
and NASA scientists will use a special tool like the one on the Mars Rover
to tell you what it's made of. Then everyone can compare their rocks to
the ones found on Mars.
NASA will post a picture of your rock on the Web and give you a report
on what kind of rock it is. NASA also will send you an official certificate
and Mars sticker for your contribution. Your rock will be kept in a special
collection where scientists from around the world can come to study it.
Here is an example of a rock and its "fingerprint,"
otherwise known as its spectrum. Every rock has a unique fingerprint.
This one tells us that the gray rock is basalt, which comes from volcanoes.
It's really important that you send a rock from the ground in its natural
setting. Avoid rocks that are decorative or used in landscaping as they
could have come from other regions on Earth.
For a group of four:
- Rock from your local area (size 2-6 inches; 4-inch rocks are preferred)
- Copy of map with location where rock was collected
- If possible, take a camera along on your rock-collecting venture,
as well as a map of the area you will be searching. When you find a
rock that you would like to send, take a picture of it in place. (Make
sure there are no people in the picture.)
- Next, measure the rock to make sure that it is the right size. If
it is the right size, and you're sure this is the rock you want to send,
mark where you found the rock on the map.
- Take the rock home, or back to your class, and wash and dry it. Write
a short paragraph describing the area where you found your rock.
- Send in your rock with the photographs, paragraph, and marked map
to the address below. You also will need to send your name, age, and
address (to send your certificate and sticker - your address is not
released), including your city, state, and ZIP code if in the United
States (and country if not).
- Optional information you can send may include the latitude and longitude
of your sample site, the name of the geographic feature where the rock
was collected, and your telephone number.
NOTE: Only first names, ages, and cities will be listed on the Web.
Please send your rock and the other information to:
Dr. Phil Christensen
Mars Space Flight Facility
Arizona State University
P.O. Box 876305, Moeur Building Room 131
Tempe, AZ 85287-6305