Lunar and Planetary Institute

Life on Mars - Resources - Websites
EXPLORE! Life on Mars


Engineering Design Process

The Works – an engineering process page from the The Works, a hands–on Museum.

Design Squad engineering design process page from the popular and successful PBS show “Design Squad.”

Engineering is Elementary engineering design process page

NASA engineering design processes:  one for K–4 and one for Grades 5–12.

Engaging Girls in STEM

The National Girls Collaborative Project™ (NGCP) is designed to reach girl–serving STEM organizations across the United States.

The SciGirls PBS television series, website, and outreach initiatives emphasize current research on strategies proven to increase girls’ engagement in STEM. A quarter of a century of studies have converged on a set of common strategies that work, and these have become SciGirls' foundation. The SciGirls Seven summarizes seven research–based strategies for engaging girls in STEM, including tips for putting these strategies to practice and references for additional information.

Women@NASA is a program the highlights the achievements of women in space science and features videos and other useful resources.

Women in Science, Working Wonders features female scientists whose passion to save the planet makes them superheroes. Full episodes, along with comic book versions of each show available.

The FabFems directory is a national database of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions who are inspiring role models for young women. The FabFems directory is accessible to young women, girl–serving STEM programs, and other organizations that are working to increase career awareness and interest in STEM.


Garden Corner hosts information about Jade plants (as well as many other plants). provides tips and information for Xeriscaping.

For more than 35 years, the National Gardening Association (NGA) has been working to renew and sustain the essential connection between people, plants, and the environment. A nonprofit leader in plant–based education, making available free educational plant–based materials, grants, and resources that speak to young minds, educators, youth and community organizations, and the general gardening. They also feature a gardening for kids area.

The EarthEasy website features information about Xeriscaping, landscaping using sustainable techniques to conserve water.


The Lunar and Planetary institute offers this site that provides the changes that occurred on Earth over the last 4 and a half billion years in timeline form. The timeline is downloadable!

NASA’s Astrobiology Institute Website offers feature stories, most recently answered questions and Alien Safari to help kids discover some of the most extreme organisms on our planet, and find out what they are telling astrobiologists about the search for life beyond Earth. Ages 7 and up.

NASA's Astro–Venture helps students explore NASA careers and astrobiology research by offering activities that allow them to "search for and build a planet with the necessary characteristics for human habitation." Ages 6 and up.

The Astrobiology Magazine contains tons of great articles regarding the search for life in the solar system. Appropriate for ages 10 and up.

The SETI Institute website contains lots of information about the search for life in the universe. Why are we searching? How are we searching? Learn about all of the different missions with one goal – to find out if life exists elsewhere in the universe. This site is a little advanced and is great for ages 12 and up.

Nova: The Lives of Extremophiles; Companion website for the video with information and resources. 


KODU: Mars Edition was created by KODU Game Lab in partnership with NASA Mars Public Engagement Program and Microsoft and allows students grades 5–8 to create worlds that reflect the Mars terrain and program a virtual model of the Curiosity rover as it searches for habitats on Mars. KODU Game Lab makes programming fun and approachable for novices through a tile–based (visual) user interface, engaging characters, and simple 3D terrain editing. A number of corresponding lesson plans may be found on the website.

The Exploratorium’s Return to Mars website features mission information, news, and discoveries, as well as activities and a video archive.

Enchanted Learning is a great site for easy to understand information about the planets. Games, coloring pages, quizzes, and resources are also provided. Great for ages 5 and up.

Kids Astronomy is great for kids ages 5–8. It provides very basic information about Mars and its moons.

The Nine Planets website for kids is suitable for ages 6 and up. It provides a plethora of information about Mars from its location in the solar system to information about the many missions to Mars. It discusses its land features, satellites, and much more!

Children ages 8 and older can explore all about Mars with Windows to the Universe.  All information is presented in English and Spanish and at several learning levels.  Be sure to check out the numerous tours of Mars and its features and history.

Kids Astronomy: Mars Explorer discusses topics like the possibility of life on Mars, missions to Mars and the future of the Red Planet. This simple text and format is great for ages 8 and older.

The Microbe Zoo is an educational resource about ecology and microbiology. The Microbe Zoo includes information about microbes and the habitats in which they dwell.

StarChild. This website discusses in basic terms different aspects of Mars such as its surface features, temperatures, atmosphere, and missions. This site is good for young audiences ages 8 and up.

Space Kids. Is there or was there ever life on Mars? Check out this site to get all the information on why we want to explore Mars and why we think there might have been life on Mars. It’s a great site for parents and children ages 12 and up.

Planetary Science Research Discoveries. Young adults will find these articles about Mars and the scientific research about possible life on Mars very informative.

Lunar bases, Mars colonies, spacecraft and more come alive though Pat Rawling's fabulous art. Many of the pieces are available for use in your public programs, including those done for NASA and JPL. Check out the copyright information at:

Be a Martian enables the public to participate as citizen scientists to assist Mars science teams studying data about the Red Planet!

Mars for Kids with Bill Nye features activities and information, presented in a more dynamic style. Not kept up to date, but good stuff.  Find out your weight on Mars and peruse the timeline of Mars exploration.

Mars Missions

Keep track of past, present, and planned future Mars missions through NASA's Mars Exploration Home page. Mission links, images, and educational material are presented for audiences of different ages.

Catch up on the latest news from the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, at their home Web site. Be sure to explore the Kids site.

Follow the latest rover of the Phoenix Mission as it investigates the polar region of Mars, searching for more information about the history of water on this near–by neighbor.

Mars Express is a  joint mission, led by the European Space Agency, with NASA instrumentation aboard. The mission's main purpose is to search for evidence of water beneath the surface. Stunning images of the surface of Mars have been returned as this spacecraft orbits the planet.

Mars Odyssey is mapping the surface features and minerals on the surface of the red planet to help scientists understand the planet's climate and geologic history.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is providing information about the surface, subsurface, and atmosphere of Mars. This information will help NASA identify landing sites for future missions.

The Mars Science Laboratory launched in 2011. This rover, Curiosity, will roam the surface, gathering more information about the environment and history of Mars, and testing new "smart rover" technology, helping NASA plan for rover exploration of hard–to–reach locations not appropriate for human investigation. You may also find the general NASA mission page useful.

Here are some interesting sites related to MSL and the Curiosity rover:

NASA's plans for exploring the Moon, Mars and Beyond!  For the latest on space craft, robots, and the technology that makes our exploration of the solar system possible, check out NASA's

Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. This site contains numerous short, engaging video clips that can enhance your program.

Learn all about the Phoenix Mars Lander – where it’s landing, what it’s going to do while on Mars, and what we hope to discover! Lots of games and activities are also available. This site is great for ages 5 and up.

Games, activities, images, and information about Mars at this Mars Rovers Site for Kids.  A little dry, but surfing around will reveal some interesting pieces.  Links to the most recent images and updates from those tenacious little rovers.

Whether you're a teacher, a parent, or just a curious enthusiast, the collections of activities from the Exploratorium will help you delve into an exploration of Mars. We've collected sets of resources grouped around three topics: the search for life on Mars, the Martian environment, and the mechanics of the Mars Exploration Rovers themselves.


Volcano World provides current, accessible information about volcanos on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system. Lots of information is provided about volcanos on Mars. There are activities and games for children ages 5 and older Be sure to take the virtual tours!

National Geographic presents an overview of volcanos, how they form, and where they occur. For children ages 10 and older.

Interactive volcano explorer from the Discovery Channel for children ages 10 and older.

A fantastic site about prediction of volcanic eruptions, with information about how and where volcanos form. The text is a little advanced, but great for parents and children ages 12 and up. Several resources are provided for those who wish to delve deeper into the wonders of volcanos.

The American Museum of Natural History provides daily tracking of volcanic eruptions across the world for ages 12 and older.

U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Science Learning Lab includes lots of information about volcanos and volcano monitoring, as well as links to sites for further exploration for ages 12 and older.  A teacher's guide includes several lesson plans about volcanos, eruptions, and impacts on humans.

Plate Tectonics

Discovering Plate Boundaries is a data–rich inquiry activity in which children explore the processes that occur at plate boundaries (volcanos, earthquakes, formation and destruction of the sea floor, and the related physical features).

Whirl–Wind URL Tour

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
Explore past, present, and future missions that are revealing new insights into Earth, our Sun, the Solar System, and the Universe

NASA’s Exploration Mission Directorate
The latest news on getting into space — the rockets, the modules, the missions … and more! Lots of videos.

Check out our plans for the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

Pat Rawlings Images
Great site for beautiful illustrations of space travel, lunar bases, Mars outposts, and more.
You are invited to use the images copyrighted to NASA and the public.

NASA’s (actually the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s) Solar System Ambassadors
Need some expertise for your space programs?  Be sure to find the Ambassador near you!

NASA Wavelength
Lots and lots and lots and lots of resources and opportunities for involvement.  Pour a cup of tea and take some time here when you can. Also be sure to check out the NASA Education Portal.

NASA Informal Education Resources
GREAT resources for the library and other out–of–school–time learning programs, created by the American Museum of Natural History.

NASA's New Worlds, New Discoveries
New Worlds, New Discoveries offers the opportunity to get involved in NASA science through the Year of the Solar System (YSS), as well as a salute to the 50–year history of solar system exploration. New Worlds, New Discoveries provides valuable educational materials and resources to engage students and the general public in exciting topics related to today’s ‘big questions’ in planetary science!

Lunar and Planetary Institute Education Pages
Home to the Explore! Program and some other educational stuff. Check out the Solar System Time Line – and Family Space Days (coming to a computer near you soon!).

Lunar and Planetary Institute’s Featured Astrobiology Resources
Featured links to Astrobiology resource web sites.

Explore Home Page
Links to present and past Explore Newsletters and several other Explore! modules like Health in Space, Mars, Rockets, Comets, and more (

Explore! Mars: Inside and Out
Hands–on activities, background information, suggested books and Web sites for further exploration.

Rock Information
Ward's Natural Science Company (note: other science supply companies also have rock samples)


Vesicular Basalt (gas pocket "holes")

Flood Basalt

Volcanic Breccia

Lunar and Mars Soil Simulant can be ordered from Orbitec (Orbital Technologies Corporation)


Last updated
June 24, 2013


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