Earth, Can You Hear Me Now?

How long did you say? Class groups plot the distances between Earth and Mars and determine the trigonometric function that models the data. Using a calculator, they graph the function to determine when the distance and communication times are the shortest, the optimum time to land a spacecraft on the Martian surface.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Determine the distance between Mars and Earth today
  • Find out when the optimum time to land a mission on Mars will be in the next few years
Classroom Considerations

  • Class should be familiar with graphing trigonometric functions

  • The animation provides an explanation for why the distances are periodic
  • Includes some real-life data in order to apply a learned skill

  • None
Common Core