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Explore Space and Plan Your Own Space Mission


The lure of space exploration offers a powerful way to ignite students’ interest in science, technology and engineering. This class guides students on a tour of our solar system and beyond, and then lets them plan their own mission to a distant destination.

We will start by exploring our own planet and considering what we can observe about Earth from space. We will survey other planets in our solar system and discuss what we need to know about a planet before we go there. Students will learn about “galaxies far, far away” and get a sense of just how vast distances in space are. They will consider what we know about Earth-like planets around other Suns and imagine what form life might take there. Inspired by what they learn, students will plan their own exploratory mission to another planet and create a model of a spacecraft that could take them there. The class provides a base of knowledge to build on as students move ahead with studies in astronomy, Earth science, engineering and more.

What You Will Learn


Learn about stars, galaxies and habitable planets and plan your own space mission.

  • Consider what we can observe about Earth from space and what we can observe about space from Earth.
  • Explore what it takes to send a rocket into space.
  • Gain an understanding of how other planets in the solar system differ from ours.
  • Examine what we need to know about a planet before traveling there.
  • Learn about Earth-like planets around other stars, consider what it would be like to visit one of these planets, and imagine what kind of life we might find there.
  • Get a sense of the vast distances between bodies in space.
  • Survey past and current space exploration missions.
  • Choose a destination and plan your own space mission.
  • Design and build a model spacecraft.

Return to the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy website here.

Note: Upon successful enrollment of a section, students will receive a confirmation email from our Student Services team. This email will include a link to an authorization form that is required to be completed within 72-hours of enrollment. 

In response to COVID-19 health guidelines, we have restructured our in-person Junior Academy workshops as online courses. Contact us at if you have questions.

Course Number: PHYS-90006
Credit: 1.50 unit(s)