Farah Alibay conquering Mars

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Perseverance: this is undoubtedly one of the greatest technological and scientific advances in our history. Behind the controls of this robot, we find the Quebecer Farah Alibay. Zoom on a historic expedition to the heart of the planet Mars!

Perseverance: this is undoubtedly one or even THE greatest technological and scientific push in our history.

Perseverance is the name of the 5th robot to be sent to the planet Mars, after Pathfinder (1997), Spirit (2004), Opportunity (2004) and Curiosity (2012). It weighs a ton, has a two-meter robotic arm, and has several high-definition cameras and microphones. The objective of this “rover” is therefore to study the soil and the environment on Mars in order to try to find traces of life there. A small helicopter can also fly over places the robot cannot reach. This is the first time that we have succeeded in flying on another planet! This mission costs approximately three billion Canadian dollars.

After a long journey of seven months, Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18, 2021. Among the hundred people who take part in this expedition, there is Farah Alibay, a Quebecer. She is an aerospace engineer for NASA and is particularly involved in piloting the robot during its mission.

The landing lasted about 7 minutes. For the NASA team, it was the most stressful part of the trip. In the event of a technical problem, the mission could have ended quite quickly:

Here's a shot of Perseverance's landing:

Perseverance landing plan / Wikipedia

Below you will find images captured in 360 degrees by Perseverance during its landing on Mars:

Your challenge

We have heard a lot about Farah Alibay in the media in recent days. But who exactly is she? What is his background? Your challenge is to find information on this young Quebecer who works for NASA and to bring out some key elements of her career. This article is a good place to start. It's in English, but you can translate the page into French to help you.

You can then create a presentation on PowerPoint, Google Slides, Canva or the tool you prefer to make your process visible.

Click on the section titles to display them!

Disciplines and levels targeted

- Science and technology (lower secondary)

  • Space
    • Conditions favorable to the development of life

- Science and technology (3rd cycle of elementary school)

  • Solar system
    • Recognize the main constituents of the solar system (Sun, planets, natural satellites)
    • Describe the characteristics of the main bodies of the solar system (e.g. composition, size, orbit, temperature)

Targeted dimensions of digital competence

  • Develop and mobilize technological skills
  • Create content using digital
  • Develop and mobilize your information culture
  • Communicate digitally
  • Develop critical thinking with regard to digital technology

Suggested digital tools

  • Edpuzzle
  • LearningApps
  • Flipgrid

Educational intention of the guide

The following activities will allow students to learn more about the motivations for exploring Mars with regard to possible signs of life on this planet.

Objectives of the activities

  • Find out who Farah Alibay is and learn about the goals of his mission to Mars.
  • Acquire new knowledge about the planet Mars through a quiz.
  • Make known, through the recording of a video, the characteristics of the planet Mars.

ACTIVITY 1: Pilot a robot on Mars, even from a distance!

Activity 1 is an opportunity for students to learn a little more about Farah Alibay and his mission on Mars. Nine open-ended or choice-of-answer questions punctuate the viewing of this video capsule. To add it to your account on Edpuzzle and assign it to your students, click on this link. This will give you the opportunity to record student responses and provide them with feedback.

ACTIVITY 2: Mars: the red planet

Activity 2 is an opportunity for students to deepen their knowledge of the planet Mars and its specific characteristics. To add this exercise to your LearningApps account, click this link. You will be able to share it with your students using the method you prefer.

ACTIVITY 3: Mars: closer to us than ever!

Activity 3 is an opportunity for students to present their new knowledge about Mars. They will have to record a video on Flipgrid to show all their knowledge about the red planet. The "topic" below can be shared with students using this link.

To be able to add this "topic" to your Flipgrid account and thus be able to provide feedback to your students' videos, you must use this link.


A Quebecer pilots a robot on Mars
Update, February 18, 2021

12 key figures on Perseverance, the rover due to land on Mars tonight
Futura Sciences, February 18, 2021

A little Perseverance… on Mars!
Jonathan Le Prof, February 23, 2021

Farah Alibay
NASA Science

Farah Alibay, our Quebec star at NASA
Radio-Canada, February 24, 2021

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