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Learners will investigate, compare, and describe patterns in Solar System data. They will then hypothesize about the formation of the Solar System based on data and explain how extrasolar planets can be discovered. In the first activity, the students investigate Solar System data to find clues to how our planetary system was formed. By the end of the activity, the students come to understand that other stars form just like the Sun, and, therefore, many stars could have planets around them. The second activity examines how scientists can find these extrasolar planets. By observing the behavior of a model star-planet system, the students come to understand that it is possible to see the effect a planet has on its parent star even if the planet cannot be seen directly. By comparing the properties of our Solar System with other planetary systems, we can gain a deeper understanding of planetary systems across the Universe. Note: The MESSENGER mission to Mercury that is mentioned in this lesson ended operations April 30, 2015. For the latest information about MESSENGER and NASA's solar system missions see the links under Related & Supplemental Resources (right side of this page).