All kids love the mystery and adventure of space exploration. And it’s a great time to take an interest. This decade should see humans return to the Moon, with a mission to Mars also on the cards. Meanwhile, we’re learning ever more about planets around other stars, and finding tentative hints about the possibility of life elsewhere in the cosmos.
But how much do you and your children know about space exploration? Try our fiendish quiz, compiled by veteran science quizmaster Matt Brown. The questions are aimed at older children, teens and their parents.
See also: 10 space activities for kids.
Space Exploration Questions
1. What is astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s real first name?
2. Which alcoholic beverage was the first to be consumed on the moon?
3. Which TV show has main characters named after the first five US astronauts.
4. An estimated 530 million people tuned in to watch the first moon-landing in July 1969. What percentage of the world’s population did this represent?
5. There’s only one piece of art on the Martian surface. Who created it?
6. With which song did astronaut Chris Hadfield become a YouTube sensation in 2013?
7. In what year was the first photograph of the Earth from space taken? (a) 1947, (b) 1957, (c) 1967.
8. Which scientist/inventor gave his name to the first production car to enter space?
9. In 2017, four NASA employees -- Nancy Grace Roman, Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride and Mae Jemison -- were commemorated in what unusual way?
10. A grim but intriguing one to finish. How many people have died in space (as of May 2018)?
1. What name, describing the beginning of the Universe, was coined by an astronomer who never believed in it?
2. What is the common name of the constellation Ursa Major, and what are the alternative North American and UK names for the part of the constellation made from its seven brightest stars?
3. If the Sun suddenly disappeared, how many minutes would it take before the Earth was plunged into darkness?
4. The VLT in northern Chile is one of the world’s leading telescope facilities. What does VLT stand for?
5. Name the only planet or moon in the solar system to have no consonants in its name.
6. How many planets feature in Gustav Holst’s The Planets (1914-16)?
7. In 2011, which planet had completed one whole year (from its perspective) since its discovery?
8. Which is the only planet in our solar system whose English name is not that of a Greek or Roman deity?
9. Which planet in our solar system has moons named after water gods and nymphs?
10. The craters on Mercury tend to be named after creative people. Which of the following is NOT a crater on Mercury? (a) Warhol, (b) Tolkien, (c) Disney, (d) Plath, (e) Kahlo
Space Exploration Questions
1. It is actually Buzz. He had it changed officially in 1988. His birth name, and the one he took to the Moon, was Edwin. Have a point for either!
2. Red wine (as part of a communion conducted by Buzz Aldrin).
3. Thunderbirds. This popular 1960s puppet show, revived in 2015 as Thunderbirds Are Go!, is fronted by the Tracy brothers, who are named after Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Gordon Cooper and Virgil Grissom.
4. 14 percent. A remarkable figure given that TVs were not yet ubiquitous.
5. Damien Hirst. The artist provided one of his trademark spot patterns as a camera calibration target on the ill-fated Beagle 2 lander. The probe went missing during landing in 2003, but is thought to be intact.
6. Space Oddity. He sang it aboard the International Space Station.
7. (a) 1947. German V2 rockets had made brief forays into space more than a decade before Sputnik became the first to achieve orbit. A US flight on a captured V2 took the first pictures of Earth from over 100 miles altitude on 7 March 1947.
8. (Nikola) Tesla. A Tesla car was launched as a dummy payload aboard the first SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch in 2018.
9. As a Lego set (‘Women of NASA’) celebrating their work.
10. Three. The crew of Soyuz 11 in 1971 died when their capsule depressurised. Other tragedies such as the two shuttle disasters occurred within the atmosphere.
1. The Big Bang, coined by Fred Hoyle.
2. The Great Bear, which includes the Plough (UK), or the Big Dipper (USA).
3. A little over 8 minutes, this being the time it takes light to travel from the surface of the Sun to the Earth. Because the Earth’s orbit is elliptical, the exact figure changes, but it averages at 8 minutes, 20 seconds.
4. The Very Large Telescope. An ELT (Extremely Large Telescope) is currently under construction.
5. Io, the volcanic moon of Jupiter.
6. Seven. The planets are linked to astrology and so Earth does not feature. Pluto, which would temporarily become the ninth planet, had not yet been discovered.
7. Neptune. The planet was discovered in 1846 and takes 164.8 Earth years to complete an orbit.
9. Neptune (again), who was himself the Roman god of the seas.
10. (e) Kahlo. Mexican painter Frida Kahlo did, however, inspire the name of a crater on Venus and a minor planet.
How Did You Do?
18-20, Space Ace!; 15-17. You’ve earned your astronaut’s wings; 10-14, Nominal trajectory; 5-9, Space oddity; 0-4, Stuck on the launchpad.
Questions adapted from the author’s book The Astounding Science Puzzle Book, from Batsford.
Are these space museums in your orbit?
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