Project Stage 3 (due at the end of week 7) (8% of course grade)
The remaining 90 points are available for the components described below.
1. Due to friction with the Earth’s atmosphere, a large static electric charge could build up on our plummeting asteroid fragment. Would you expect our fragment to generate a magnetic field? Explain why or why not. (15 points)
2. As the fragment falls through the atmosphere, it is heated and some of the material is vaporized. Explain how you could determine the composition of this hot vaporized material from the light it emits. (15 points)
3. Some asteroid fragments are large enough to not completely burn up in the atmosphere and they end up on the surface of the Earth. It is possible for such a fragment to be radioactive. What is the chief cause of radioactivity? If you had a radiation detector that could measure the amount of radiation—but not the type of radiation—how could you determine which type of radiation was being emitted? (20 points)
4. How could the age of this fragment be determined? (10 points)
5. Asteroids can be classified into two broad groups based on their composition and location: carbon-rich asteroids dominate the outer part of the asteroid belt, whereas metal-rich asteroids dominate the inner part of the belt. Analysis of the fragment we have discussed in this project reveals that it contains nearly equal amounts of metals and carbon. Can you conclude that the original whole asteroid had a similar composition? Can you conclude with a high degree of confidence that the asteroid originated in the middle regions of the asteroid belt? Explain your reasoning. If you would need more data from the asteroid analysis, what would you like to see? (20 points)
6. The Law of Conservation of Energy tells us that “energy cannot be created nor destroyed.” At the center of our Solar System is the Sun, and the Sun is constantly generating energy allowing our Earth to have habitable conditions for life to exist. What is the source of the Sun’s energy? Does the Law of Conservation of Energy apply here? Explain your answer. (10 points).
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