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Artificial satellites

An artificial satellite is an object that people have made and launched into orbit using rockets. There are currently over a thousand active satellites orbiting the Earth. The size, altitude and ...

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Lift-off

A rocket will launch and keep speeding up as long as the force pushing it upwards (thrust) is greater than the forces pulling and pushing it downwards (gravity and drag). Newton’s first law ...

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Natural satellites

A satellite is anything that orbits around a larger object. A natural satellite is any celestial body in space that orbits around a larger body. Moons are called natural satellites because they ...

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Gravity and satellite motion

Gravity is a force that attracts all objects towards each other. People are attracted towards the Earth and the Earth towards people, the Moon and the Earth are attracted towards each other, and ...

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Light and telescopes

The universe is full of amazing things, but we need help to see most of them. There are many types of light that our eyes cannot see, so we use instruments, such as telescopes, that can detect ...

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Our Solar System – revolutionary ideas

Since the earliest times, humans have made observations of the night sky. These observations, particularly of the Earth, Moon, Sun and planets (visible to the naked eye), led to the development ...

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The Matariki star cluster

Using the Matariki star cluster as a context for learning can cover many different subjects. Stars There are about a thousand stars in Matariki (also known as the Pleiades), but only about seven ...

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Launching satellites

Launching a satellite into orbit requires consideration of a number of major science ideas. These include gravity, circular motion and atmospheric drag. Atmospheric drag Satellites need to be ...

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Satellite communications

Communications satellites are used to send and receive radio signals for television, phone or internet communications. Large concave reflectors called satellite dishes are normally used to send ...

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History of satellites – timeline

See key dates relating to early discoveries about natural and artificial satellites in this timeline. 6th century BCE – Ancient Greek geocentric model Ancient Greek astronomers believe the Earth ...

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Distances in space

Distances in space are really, really big. The Voyager 1 spacecraft is heading out of our Solar System at 62,000 km per hour, but even at that speed, it would take it 77,000 years to reach the ...

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Observing clouds and weather

Wayfinder navigators always look for signs of weather at sunrise and sunset. This is when they try to predict the weather for the next 12 hours. One of the easiest ways to predict weather is to ...

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Plasmas explained

We happily live in the Earth’s gaseous lower atmosphere composed of a mixture of gases – primarily nitrogen and oxygen. However, if we move upwards from the Earth’s surface, the environment ...

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Revitalising Māori astronomy

Māori ancestors possessed a wealth of astronomical knowledge that they referred to as tātai arorangi. The knowledge was important for many aspects of daily life, from growing crops, fishing and ...

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Astronomical cycles

Ice caps have come and gone over the Earth’s surface for many millions of years. What has caused the cyclical warming and cooling of our planet. In the 1920s and 1930s, Milutin Milankovitch, a ...

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The Sun and white dwarfs

Professor Denis Sullivan studies white dwarfs – small and dense stars that are cooling down after being red giants. Our Sun, and most other stars, will eventually become a white dwarf. The life ...

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