Questions for ‘On the lookout for micro-missiles from space’

Space dust rains down on Earth all the time. Most of these specks are too small to see. But when one the size of a sand grain hits the atmosphere, it blazes with visible light, becoming a micrometeor, or “shooting star.”


To accompany feature ‘On the lookout for micro-missiles from space’


Before Reading

1. Have you ever seen a shooting star? What do you think it is?

2. If you could use a microscope to look at the dust under your bed, what do you think you’d find? What if you looked at dirt from your roof?


During Reading

1. How big is a piece of space dust?

2. How fast does it travel?

3. What happens to a speck of space dust that hits Earth’s atmosphere?

4. How can a tiny piece of space dust harm a satellite? 

5. What is an electromagnetic pulse? How might space dust trigger one?    

6. What does Arjun Berera mean when he says space dust “scrapes off bits of the atmosphere”?    

7. How far up in the sky have researchers found microbes?

8. What is a micrometeorite? 

9. What steps does Jon Larsen follow to search for space dust on a rooftop?   

10. What lessons in science can scientists learn by studying micrometeorites?

After Reading

1. Describe some of the big effects that a tiny speck of space dust can have.

2. Imagine you’re an Earth microbe that got launched into space by a collision with space dust. Write the first paragraph of a letter to your microbe friends back home.