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Paper: New Ideas in Orreries and Planetary System Simulations
Volume: 400, Preparing for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy: A Hands-on Symposium
Page: 230
Authors: Gould, A.; Koch, D.; DeVore, E.; Harman, P.
Abstract: The NASA Kepler EPO team has created models and simulations of planetary systems (orreries) to use in demonstrating the transit technique of finding exoplanets. The first successful orrery, consisting of a three-planet orrery with an electric lamp (model star) at the center, and a Vernier light sensor system connected to a laptop computer with real-time graphing software, was first on display at the Kepler booth at the 2006 AAS conference. That system was extended to a four-planet model (one planet with a moon as well) and has been on display at many astronomy and teacher education conferences in the past few years. Construction of duplicate models costs about $60 for LEGOTM parts, plus $100 or so for light sensor hardware and software. The LEGOTM orrery effort stemmed from successful work in creating a large museum-grade orrery that was used in the Planet-Finding portion of the “Alien Earths” exhibit, a collaboration of Space Science Institute, NSF, NASA Kepler mission EPO and other NASA EPO groups. Replication of that model would cost in the neighborhood of $25,000. In recent months, Kepler EPO has worked on design of a more rudimentary, inexpensive orrery made of cardboard, paper plates, wine corks, and rubber bands. Work is also underway on a new plastic-geared orrery for use in classrooms with a Full Option Science System (FOSS) Planetary Science Unit for middle school. This presentation relays results and status of these new developments in planetary model systems.
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