Investigate Comet SL9 Online
Jupiter Picture

You probably know quite a bit about our solar system already. Perhaps you've seen rocket launches on TV or the movie Apollo 13 and have become interested in the people and spacecraft that have helped us study the Earth and the Moon. Maybe you've read books and magazine articles about the planets, the Sun, and the space missions that have gathered information about them.

Scientists are learning more about the solar system every day—and the Internet is a great resource to keep up with their new findings. This activity guides you in exploring the solar system by using Internet resources. At the same time, you'll "fly" deep into space to learn about Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which smashed into the planet Jupiter in July 1994.

If you're ready, let's start exploring! Read through the numbered steps below. Then go ahead and start the activity. Don't forget to look at the Additional Information links at the bottom of this page for more information about Jupiter and space.

Activity Steps

1. Investigate Jupiter

Let's start by using the Internet to get some basic information about the planet Jupiter. Go to the Questions About Jupiter page. The page has a list of research questions about Jupiter. If possible, you'll probably want to print out the page.

2. Collect Data on Shoemaker-Levy 9

Now that you've learned something about Jupiter, let's find out about Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. Use the link below to go to the SL9 Data Log. This page asks you to find facts about SL9 as well as download images and movies.

3. Create Your Own SL9 Web Page

You've visited a lot of Web sites in your quest for information and images relating to Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. Now it's time to try your hand at creating your own Web page! Formatting a page for the Web takes some patience, but it's a fun way to share information with others. To start your career as a World Wide Web author, check out Create Your Own Web Page.

4. Astronomy Puzzle

Our Astronomy Puzzle page is where we publish questions that people have sent to us via e-mail. If you or your students know the answer to any of the questions, write in and let us know.

Answer Key

The Answer Key contains answers to all student activities.

Additional Information

Here are two additional Web pages that you might want to visit. Both have links to sites containing information about Jupiter and space.

Reference Shelf

The Reference Shelf is a list of pages on the World Wide Web that contain basic information about the solar system and Shoemaker-Levy 9, with links to lots of other pages. Think of it as a shelf full of multimedia "books" that you can use when you do your research. To start using any of these resources, just click on its name.

The Planets

At this site, you can take a tour of the solar system, stopping to read about each of the planets as well as experience some of the sights and sounds related to each planet.

Glossary of Space Flight Terms

This glossary provides definitions for terms related to space and space flight, as well as links to other resources to learn more.

JPL's Jupiter Profile

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory works closely with NASA in exploring the solar system and provides a great deal of information about its research on the Internet. This page is full of facts about and images of Jupiter.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Collision with Jupiter

Some parts of this page were created before Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9—or "SL9"—collided with Jupiter. Other parts of the page have been updated more recently. (It might be interesting to compare predictions to what actually happened.) There are links to many other sites, including places to find images of the impact.

National Space Science Data Center's SL9 page

The NSSDC provides detailed information about the comet and the impact, with links to images from many different sources, including the Hubble Space Telescope.

JPL's SL9 Home Page

JPL's site devoted to Shoemaker-Levy 9 is perhaps the most extensive, and it has links to some other excellent SL9 sites. Its Latest Conclusions section has links to magazine articles on the topic.

Tribute to Eugene M. Shoemaker

This site pays tribute to Eugene Shoemaker, the discoverer of SL9, who died in 1997. A portion of his remains were sent to the moon for burial.

Space Links

Picture of the Planets

There are many sites devoted to space-related topics on the Internet. Here are just a few to get you started.

Welcome to the Planets

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) offers its own tour of the solar system.

NASA Homepage

Your mission base for exploring a wealth of information provided by NASA.

Mission to Jupiter

In October 1989, NASA launched a spacecraft called Galileo toward Jupiter. Six years later, in December 1995, Galileo arrived at its destination. Along the way, Galileo grabbed some great shots of Earth, Venus, and the asteroid belt. Once in Jupiter's orbit, the spacecraft released a probe to gather more information about the planet and report back to Earth. The Galileo mission ended in 2003 when the spacecraft was deliberately crashed into Jupiter’s atmosphere in order to protect its discovery of a possible ocean on one of Jupiter’s moons. Visit this site to view images from and learn more about NASA's successful Galileo mission.

Kennedy Space Center Home Page

This site contains information about the Kennedy Space Center, reports on its past and future missions, and links to related Web sites.


NASA's learning center for young astronomers.

Unit Plan

The Impact of Shoemaker-Levy 9

The Unit Plan: The Impact of Shoemaker-Levy 9 outlines a guided research activity in which your students can use the Internet to learn about the event. Astronomy and space exploration are topics about which there is an enormous amount of information available on the Internet. As your students work through this activity, they will be introduced to a few of these resources and gain a starting point for future research.

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