Airdate: Nov 18, 2009
Scientist: Ashwin Vasavada
Kids' Science Challenge: Mars - Golf
If you want to drive golf balls like Tiger Woods, no need for practice. Just head on up to Mars!
music; ambience paper crumpling
JM: There’s a reason we crumple paper before tossing it into the recycling bin; it’s a good way to counter earth’s dense air pressure. Try tossing an uncrumpled page, and it’s not going to make it to the basket. But toss a paper-ball on Mars, and it’ll really go the distance. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
AV: “When we want a ball to go really far and really fast, we make it really small, like a golf ball. On Mars we could play golf with even bigger balls because they would see the air less. They would notice it less and be able to go just as far into the hole 300 yards away.”
JM: With low air pressure and minimal gravity, Mars just might be the ideal playground for all kinds of sports, if we ever colonize the planet. Ashwin Vasavada is a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He’s also a participant in our latest edition of the Kids’ Science Challenge, a nationwide competition for 3rd to 6th graders. And Imagining Sports on Mars is one of this year’s entry categories.”
AV: “All of the sports equipment that we use on Earth are really kind of tuned to Earth’s atmosphere. Things are affected by the wind, just like the paper. Different balls and Frisbees and things like that that are carried around by the wind in different ways, and all that’ll have to be sort of rethought and redone as we go to Mars. Frisbee is probably the kind of sports equipment that’s most tuned to Earth’s atmosphere. It’s basically like a wing. If you weren’t throwing it and it wasn’t flying through the air and being lifted by the air, it would just drop, but on Mars, where the air is so much thinner, Frisbee won’t work so well. It’ll probably just drop if we threw it normally like we do on Earth.”
JM: If you know a 3rd to 6th grader who can come up with an idea for a sport that’s tailored to the Martian environment, well, have them log on to kidsciencechallenge.com. That’s kidsciencechallenge.com.
Pulse of the Planet’s Kids’ Science Challenge is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.