NASA Johnson Space Center
2001 NASA Road 1
Houston, TX 77058
Potato Astronaut 1
Potato Astronaut 2
In part one of Potato Astronaut,
students found that “high speed” impacts enabled the plastic straw to penetrate
the potato without collapsing. Challenge the students to design a
way to protect the potato from damage caused by the impacts using just
the materials they brought to the classroom. Their solutions to this
challenge should be flexible and light in weight.
Materials and Tools Checklist
Plastic (milkshake-size) straw
tissue paper, notebook paper, handkerchiefs,
rubber bands, napkins, aluminum foil, wax paper, plastic wrap, etc.
Students design a method for protecting potato
astronauts from damage caused by the plastic straw when it is quickly stabbed
into the potato.
After students have tested a method for protecting
a potato, conduct a discussion to evaluate technologies developed.
Refine the constraints for a protection system (eg. the materials used
must together be no thicker than ___mm).
Have students redesign their system based
on the refined constraints. Conduct additional impact tests with
Test protection systems by using the Impact
Resistance Test Stand. Evaluate the effectiveness of the protection
Compare technologies for protecting astronauts
from micrometeoroid and space debris impacts to other protective technologies
such as bullet-proof vests, suits of armor, shields on power tools, and
windshields on vehicles. How does the function determine the form?
(eg. Motorcycle helmet provide protection during crash...be streamlined
... comfortable to wear...protect face from bugs and rock impacts, etc.)
Experiment with different fabrics and fabric
combinations for protective garments.
|Micrometeoroids and Space Debris
Potato Astronaut - part one
Pea Shooter Meteoroids