Kepler’s Laws: Explore the orbits of other worlds

Time to complete course: 16 min.

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About Kepler’s Laws: Explore the orbits of other worlds Virtual Lab Simulation

Captain, the mysteries of the Astakos planetary system await us! In this simulation, you will learn about the orbits of celestial bodies through Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. Join the search for life in new worlds and learn about the shape of orbits, about how a planet’s velocity changes along its orbit, and about the relationship between the periods of orbits of different sizes. 

Explore the Astakos planetary system

Our mission is to search for life in an alien planetary system. The student will experiment with different elliptical orbits to find out which of the orbits in the system correspond to a potentially habitable planet. Next, they will use Kepler’s second law to follow their planet of interest closely. Lastly, they will gather data to deduce Kepler’s third law and use it to put a geostationary satellite in orbit.

Experiment with orbits and satellites

Students will manipulate ellipses to analyze different planetary orbits. They will observe and think critically about Kepler’s second law to predict the motion of the planet of interest. Lastly, they will put their own satellite in orbit with an interactive simulation, obtaining a hands-on experience of Kepler’s third law only a virtual lab can deliver.

This simulation contextualizes scientific knowledge and incorporates it into an immersive and exciting storyline.

Say ‘Cheese’!

At the end of the sim, you will use your knowledge of Kepler’s laws to launch a geostationary satellite and take a picture of an exoplanet’s surface. What wonders will we find in this new world?

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Travel through interstellar space and learn about Kepler’s laws exploring an alien planetary system.

Techniques in Lab

Learning Objectives

  • Relate Kepler’s three laws to the common motions of objects in orbit.
  • Describe how a planet’s velocity changes within its elliptical orbit.
  • Use Kepler’s third law to relate the orbital period and the length of the semimajor axis of an orbit and predict the period of an orbit from its semimajor axis.

Simulation Features

Length – 16 minutes
Accessibility mode – Not Available
Languages – English

Examples of Related Standards

NGSS
  • ESS1.A-M1
  • ESS1.B-H1

Screenshots of Kepler’s Laws: Explore the orbits of other worlds Virtual Lab Simulation

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