Center Mission

Operation Comet

Mission Goal: Study a comet that’s entered the inner solar system.

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Grade Level 5-8

Earth and Space Science

Visit a Challenger Learning Center

An urgent discovery changes scientists' and astronauts' mission goals. Can they engineer a solution to save the world?

A large comet is passing close to Earth soon. It’s a perfect opportunity to study and explore long-period comets. As a crew of astronauts, scientists, and researchers, your students will collaborate on building technologies to study the long-period comet and share their data with Mission Control scientists.

Goals quickly change when an urgent discovery is made by crew members and the teams are tasked to change course and quickly problem-solve a solution.

The team must quickly troubleshoot and design a new technology that will solve the emergency and complete their new mission objective: Save the world.

Visit a Challenger Learning Center where students experience our fully immersive and interactive Operation Comet simulation. They’ll be placed into teams to conduct research, collaborate to find solutions to urgent challenges, and experience real-world STEM careers.

Integrate our pre-and post-mission activities into your classroom lessons to expand students’ understanding of Earth and space science and technology.

While Operation Comet primarily focuses on Earth and space science themes, it also integrates physical science, life science, and engineering topics.

“Operation Comet was an amazing life-like experience for our students. They felt like they were actually making history!”

- George Doughty, 5th Grade Teacher at Morocco Elementary School (Indiana), Visited Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana

Learning Objectives

  • Understand and analyze how comets are formed and how they travel in space

  • Understand the impact of space weather, including solar storms

  • Troubleshoot and solve problems using the engineering design process

  • Collaborate with peers to achieve a common goal

  • Enhance scientific vocabulary

  • Approximate program time: 2 hours

  • Pre- and post-lesson activities available

  • Reading level options available (student selected)

  • Closed captioning available

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned

  • Common Core State Standards (CCSS) aligned

  • No personal student data collected