CREST correct answers

Hope you find this useful, here are the links to skip to specific weeks!

Initial Form

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

Final Quiz

Initial Form

11. What is the name of the closest star to the sun?

A: Proxima Centauri 

12. What year was the the first moon landing?

A: 1969 

13. Which Planet is this?

A: Mars 

14. Which planet did Cassini visit?

A: Saturn 

15. Which moon is this?

A: Enceladus 

16. What is this?

A: Tardigrade 

17. What is the name of the telescope that discovered over 2500 exoplanets?

A: Kepler 

18. Why might a Red Dwarf System not be suitable for life?

A: Too cold, too much dangerous radiation from flares, variable luminosity, planets orbit close so are tidally locked 

Week One

  1. How wide is our Galaxy?
    • 100,000 Light Years
  2. Why can’t we count every star in the galaxy?
    • Too many (would take 3000 years), some blocked by bright galactic core 
  3. What is the most common type of star in our part of the galaxy?
    • Red Dwarfs 
  4. What makes red dwarf systems potentially uninhabitable? Name one reason
    • Too cold, too much dangerous radiation from flares, variable luminosity, planets orbit close so are tidally locked 
  5. What is tidal locking?
    • When one side of the planet always faces the star 
  6. How many confirmed planets does TRAPPIST-1 have?
  7. What is an exoplanet?
    • A planet that does not orbit our sun. 
  8. How many confirmed exoplanets are there?
    • Over 4000 
  9. What percentage of stars (roughly) in the milky way are in the GHZ
    • 0.1-2% 
  10. Name one of the elements (on the periodic table) essential for life
    • Carbon/Nitrogen/Hydrogen/Oxygen/Phosphorus/Sulphur (most chose oxygen [24%] and Carbon [30%] as this makes most sense)
  11. Other than essential chemicals, name 2 factors important to life
    • Large Planet Nearby/Suitable Atmosphere/Liquid Water/Magnetic Field/Plate Tectonics/Energy Source (most people got at least one, make sure to specify *liquid* water, as ice and gaseous states are fairly common but unuseful.
  12. How has Jupiter affected life on earth?
    • It’s movement in the early solar system (probably) caused the realignment of the early planets that (probably) resulted in the collision of Thea (a mars-sized body) with earth, forming the moon. (1) The moon helps to stabilise the earth, reducing drastic seasonal changes/The moon produces tides that may have helped life to start and thrive. (2) It’s gravitational influence also changes the courses of asteroids that may have otherwise hit earth. (3)(Most people got the asteroid bit, and nearly everyone said it was to do with its gravity. Only 4 people got 3/3)
  13. What is the name of the resilient organism that can survive the vacuum of space
    • Tardigrade (or a Water Bear as it is often called) (I also gave the mark for mis-spelled versions or a half mark for extremophile)
  14. Where is the sun in the galaxy? Why is this considered safe?
    • In the orion arm, midway between the centre and edge of the galaxy, in the galactic habitable zone, far from black holes/pulsars/possible supernovae/ other violent bodies.
  15. What is an autotroph?
    • An organism that uses the inorganic resources in its environment to release energy and create organic matter. Eg. a photosythesiser uses light, a chemotroph might use rocks or gases.

Week 2

  1. Which telescope has found the most exoplanets?
    • Kepler
  2. Who is it named after? Why?
    • Johannes Kepler, a german astronomer who described the laws of planetary motion
  3. What method does this telescope use?
    • The transit method (looking for dips in brightness as the planet passes in front of the star
  4. What can the transit method alone normally tell us about the planet it finds?
    • Distance from star, orbital period, potential atmospheric composition (if spectroscopy is possible), volume
  5. Order the transit graphs by distance from star (furthest to closest). Concentrate on length of transit
    • C, A, B (the further out the planet is, the longer it takes to transit)
  6. Order the transit graphs by size of planet (smallest to biggest). Concentrate on the change in brightness
    • B, C, A (the larger the planet, the larger the drop in brightness, for planets orbiting at the same distance)
  7. How can we find the mass of the planet?
    • Radial Velocity (the wobble method)/ looking at the change in orbital period in multi-planetary systems.
  8. What is spectroscopy?
    • Splitting the light with a prism and analyzing the spectrum for absorption lines
  9. What effect does Radial Velocity use?
    • Doppler Shift
  10. Name 2 other exoplanet detection methods
    • Microlensing, Direct Imaging
  11. Explain how one of these methods works
    • Microlensing: Looking for the slight peaks in brightness when light from a distant object is focussed onto earth by the exoplanet’s gravity
    • Direct Imaging: Blocking out the light from the star and looking for the faint light reflected or emitted (eg. infra red heat radiation) by the planet
  12. How will TESS cover more stars in less time than Kepler?
    • Targeting brighter stars
  13. What is a biomarker?
    • In indicator of life
  14. Why is oxygen a biomarker?
    • It is vital for respiration and released during photosynthesis. Unless it is continually produced, it will combine with other elements to form compounds like rocks
  15.  How fast will the breakthrough starshot nanocraft travel?
    • 20% the speed of light
  16. What is the name of the nearest star to the sun?
    • Proxima Centauri
  17. If Proxima Centauri is 4 how long will it take for the first images of the system to be beamed back after the launch of the nanocraft? (considering they travel at 20% the speed of light to get there, and the data beamed back once there will travel at the speed of light to return). 
    • 24 years
  18. How will the nanocraft be powered?
    • They will travel together, forming a lightsail, partially powered by the sun, but mainly by giant earth-based lasers pointed at them. The force of the impacting photons is enough to accelerate the craft as they are so light
  19. What is the difference between active and passive exploration?
    • Active: sending out spacecraft to visit. Passive: using telescopes from afar

Week 3

  1. What 2 main things make Venus different from Earth
    • Atmosphere, Temperature
  2. Where could life exist on Venus?
    • In the upper atmosphere
  3. Why is this unlikely?
    • This is where the highest concentrations of sulphuric acid is found
  4. What makes venus inhospitable?
    • High temperature, Thick atmosphere of greenhouse gases, high surface pressure, no plate tectonics
  5. What led to Venus becoming inhospitable?
    • As the sun aged, it got hotter, so more insolation hit Venus, heating it up. This heat was trapped by the CO2 atmosphere, causing its temp to rise further, boiling away the oceans. As water is a potent greenhouse gas, this created exponential global warming. 
  6. What is insolation?
    • The energy from the sun incident on the planet’s surface aka. flux
  7. Why is Mars’ magnetic field so patchy?
    • A magnetic field is created by convection of a liquid metal outer core. Mars’ outer core is partially/mostly solid as it cooled quicker (bc it is smaller)
  8. Where could we find microbes on Mars? name and explain one place
    • in subsurface lakes beneath the surface. protected from radiation
    • in cracks in the rock deep underground. protected from radiation/ we found evidence for life 5km down on earth so its possible
  9. Why is no magnetic field a problem?
    • surface subject to intense radiation
  10. What does halophilic mean?
    • An organism that thrives in super salty conditions
  11. What is an example of an astrobiological instrument that could be included on a mars mission?
    • drill, spectrometer, microscope
  12. Why could life have existed on the moon?
    • Artificial Panspermia by apollo missions
    • Panspermia
    • Was habitable (had an atmosphere and potentially oceans) shortly after its formation.
  13. What is panspermia?
    • When life is transferred between planets/moons by asteroids or spacecraft
  14. What is NASA’s next moon series called?
    • Artemis

Week 4

  1. Why is it unlikely we will find life on a gas giant?
    • No surface, too hot interior, too windy
  2. Name one of the two moon bigger than Mercury
    • Titan/Ganymede
  3. What makes Europa interesting?
    • It has a subsurface ocean
  4. How is Enceladus’ ocean kept warm?
    • Tidal Heating
  5. What is Enceladus’ ocean made of?
    • Saltwater
  6. Titan is the
    • largest moon of saturn
  7. Which chemicals act like water on Titan?
    • Hydrocarbons (specifically methane and ethane)
  8. What is a cryovolcano?
    • A volcano that erupts water/ice/volatiles instead of rock
  9. Tick the 2 main components of Titan’s atmosphere
    • Nitrogen, Methane
  10. Which planet does Triton orbit?
    • Neptune
  11. Which spacecraft visited Triton and how much of its surface was mapped?
    • Voyager 2, 40%
  12. Roughly how many volcanoes does io have?
    • 400
  13. Is io considered a potential habitat for life? Why/Why not?
    • No, it has no atmosphere, no water, too much volcanic activity and is subject to intense radiation by jupiter’s magnetic field
  14. Compare the Earth-Moon system to the Pluto-Charon system. mention the barycenter
    • The moon is much smaller than the earth whereas Charon is over half Pluto’s size. The barycenter of the Earth and moon is firmly beneath earth’s crust, but for the Pluto-Charon system, it is between them, slightly above Pluto’s surface. The barycenter is the point around which 2 objects move
  15. What are tidal forces
    • The forces that stretch/squeeze a body due to the difference in gravity between the near and far side. Causes frictional heating
  16. What is this moon and why is it special?
    • Enceladus, has a subsurface ocean and vents of water at the south pole

Final Quiz

  1. How wide is our Galaxy?
    • 100,000 Light Years
  2. Are sun-like stars more common than red dwarfs?
    • No
  3. Why can’t we count every star in the galaxy?
    • Too many (would take 3000 years), some blocked by bright galactic core
  4. What makes red dwarf systems potentially uninhabitable?
    • Too cold, too much dangerous radiation from flares, variable luminosity, planets orbit close so are tidally locked 
  5. What is tidal locking?
    • When one side of the planet/moon always faces the star/planet as the rotation period is the same as orbital period
  6. What are tidal forces and why are they important?
    • The difference in gravitational pull between the near and far side creates a stretching/squeezing effect that can cause the interior to heat via friction. Can power volcanoes or melt ice into oceans
  7. What is the name of the red dwarf system with 7 planets?
    • TRAPPIST 1
  8. Name 2 things that make a planet habitable?
    • Temperature, presence of essential chemicals, liquid water, large planet nearby, atmosphere, magnetic field, plate tectonics…
  9. What are the conditions of the galactic habitable zone?
    • Metal concentrations, distance from galactic centre, height above galactic plane, distance from sources of radiation like neutron stars/supernovae, black holes
  10. Name one of the elements on the periodic table required for life
    • Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sulphur. (water is not an element but is made of hydrogen and oxygen
  11. Name of closest star to sun?
    • Proxima Centauri
  12. What is this? Why is it special?
    • Tardigrade/water Bear, can survive extreme drought and the vacuum of space
  13. What is an autotroph?
    • An organism that uses the inorganic resources in its environment to release energy and create organic matter. Eg. a photosythesiser uses light, a chemotroph might use rocks or gases.
  14. Name a method of exoplanet detection?
    • Microlensing/ Transit Method/ Direct Imaging/ Radial Velocity
  15. How does the Transit Method work?
    • Look for dips in the stars luminosity when the planet passes in front
  16. How does Direct Imaging work?
    • Block out light from the star and look for the faint light reflected/emitted by the planet
  17. How does Radial velocity work?
    • Look for the change in wavelength emitted by the star as it moves equal and opposite to the pull of the planet
  18. What is the name of the final detection method, partially predicted by Einstein?
    • Microlensing/ Gravitational Lensing
  19. Which telescope found over 3000 exoplanets?
    • Kepler
  20. What 3 things can the transit method tell us?
    • Size, Distance from star, potential atmospheric composition
  21. What does Radial Velocity tell us that the Transit Method doesn’t?
    • mass
  22. What is the doppler effect?
    • Shift in wavelength when the source is moving relative to the observer
  23. What is a biomarker? Give an example and why this is one
    • Indicator of life. Oxygen. If not continually produced it would combine with other elements. (other biomarkers acceptable if correctly explained)
  24. What is the difference between active and passive exploration?
    • Active: sending out spacecraft to visit. Passive: using telescopes from afar
  25. Which moon is this?
    • Enceladus
  26. Match the Mission to the destination
    • Cassini-Saturn
    • Vega-Venus (didn’t actually talk about this)
    • Breakthrough Starshot-Proxima Centauri
    • Perseverance-Mars
    • Kepler-Exoplanets
    • Voyager 2-Neptune
  27. Where have scientists theorised life could exist on Venus?
    • Upper atmosphere, where temp and pressure are more earth-like. but this is where highest concentration of sulphuric acid is found
  28. What about Mars?
    • Subsurface lake beneath south pole/ deep underground
  29. Any chance of life on the moon?
    • Potentially deep underground, surviving from when teh moon may have been habitable
    • Potentially from panspermia
    • Probably not it has no atmosphere and all its water is locked up in ice or rock
  30. What does halophilic mean?
    • An organism that thrives in super salty conditions
  31. Which 2 moons are known for their subsurface ocean and icy surfaces
    • Europa and Enceladus
  32. Which 2 moons are larger than mercury?
    • Titan, ganymede
  33. Which moon is known for its thick atmosphere?
    • Titan
  34. Which moon’s surface has only been 40% mapped?
    • Triton
  35. What is a barycenter and why is it interesting for Pluto and its largest moon?
    • the point around which 2 objects orbit. it is above pluto’s surface
  36. Tell me everything you can remember about Titan
    • 2nd largest moon in solar system, largest moon of saturn, has lakes of hydrocarbons, only moon with a thick atmosphere
  37. What is a cryovolcano? Where might it be found?
    • A volcano that erupts ice/water/volatiles instead of rock, on Enceladus/Titan/Europa/Pluto/Triton
  38. What is panspermia?
    • When life is transmitted between 2 planets/moons by asteroids/spacecraft
  39. What is astrobiology?
    • Study of life in space.