Electromagnetic spectrum

Learners will explore the ways that Dawn Mission scientists, engineers, and technologists "in the real world" will use instrumentation that detect the interactions between different frequencies/wavelengths of the EMR and matter to make scientific measurements and analyze data specifically to,

  1. determine the presence and abundance of elements and mineral content on Vesta's and Ceres' surfaces;
  2. map the global topography of Vesta's and Ceres' surfaces;
  3. map Vesta's and Ceres' shape, volume, mass concentration and mass distribution.

What will we "see" when we get to Vesta and Ceres?

This standards-aligned module is organized around a learning cycle and engages students in a number of experiences in order for the teacher to activate students’ prior knowledge, and assess student conceptual understanding in order to inform instruction.

Scientific notation, units, and their conversions are sometimes hard to compare. This Wavelength Conversion Factors chart compares units, using scientific notation, across the Electromagnetic Spectrum. Use it as a reference to aid in understanding the different bands of energy as you or your students work through the activities in this module.

Activity sheets should be saved for students to use in the assessment activity.


CSI: Dawn
In this activity, a crime was committed on the sandy shore of a lake at a local park. Your students will act as members of a crime scene investigation team that has taken a soil sample while investigating what is thought to be the scene of a crime.

Instrumentation Exploration
Exploration is designed to help your students understand more about how the each of the instruments (FC, GRaND, VIR) aboard the Dawn Spacecraft operate and what they will help us "see" when the spacecraft reaches Ceres and Vesta.


Gravity Measurement
Students use simulated data of changes in a spacecraft's velocities as it orbits a Vesta-like asteroid to map regions of high and low mass concentrations.

Interaction Synthesis

Mineral Identification
Students are guided through an analytical process similar to the one the Dawn scientists will use determine the mineral content of the surfaces of Vesta and Ceres from the experimental data collected by the instrument payload onboard the Dawn spacecraft.


Concept Maps
This activity is designed to assess your students' understanding of the matter and energy interactions and relationships related to data collection by the Dawn spacecraft instrument payload.

Developed by educators associated with Dawn Education and Communications and McREL International.