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Learn why astronomical units (AU) are a useful way to measure distances in the solar system in this video from NASA Launchpad. Host Justin Tully describes how far various NASA missions have traveled and explains how measuring distances in astronomical units helps to put things in perspective. Instead of measuring large distances in miles or kilometers, which would require using large numbers with lots of zeroes, the use of astronomical units makes the numbers more manageable. In addition, learn about the trajectory of the New Horizons spacecraft, which was launched in 2006.
To view the Background Essay, Teaching Tips, and Student Handout for this video, go to Support Materials below. This resource was developed through WGBH’s Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms project, in collaboration with NASA. Click here for the full collection of resources.