The Student Dust Counter is an instrument aboard the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto, launched in 2006. As it travels to Pluto and beyond, SDC will provide information on the dust that strikes the spacecraft during its 14-year journey across the solar system. These observations will advance human understanding of the origin and evolution of our own solar system, as well as help scientists study planet formation in dust disks around other stars.
In this lesson, students learn the concepts of averages, standard deviation from the mean, and error analysis. Students explore the concept of standard deviation from the mean before using the Student Dust Counter data to determine the issues associated with taking data, including error and noise. Questions are deliberately open-ended to encourage exploration.