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JANUARY 3, 1995                                                UPDATES-LFA-4

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  ****  HAPPY NEW YEAR ****
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We are in the middle of our electronic adventure to Antarctica. In eight days, we hope to take you along with us to a very special location-- the South Pole-- in SPACESHIP SOUTH POLE. This will be quite an accomplishment as you will see when you read the notes POLE TO PLANET will be shown on January 19th.

These update newsletter messages help you follow the progress of this electronic adventure to Antarctica. There are three basic components to the program described in more detail in the Teacher's Guide:

 ________________    ______________________    _____________
 |        1     |    |          2         |    |     3      |
 |+ Television +|    |+  Telecomputing   +|    |+ Teachers +|
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                      ----------- 1 ------------
               ---====|   T E L E V I S I O N   |=====---

Program Notes from our Executive Producer, Geoff Haines-Stiles:

Reflections on the first two Programs:

These programs demonstrated the value of direct student communication with researchers in the field. Through the partnership among the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and the "Live for Antarctica production team we were able to bring you, for the:

  |  --- ---
  |  |__  |
  |  ___| |   T I M E   E V E R

           L I V E   V I D E O    I M A G E S  F R O M

     A N T A R C T I C A ' S  M c M U R D O    D R Y    V A L L E Y S

In the first program you saw the Taylor Valley with Ian Dalziel on a mountain-top amid clouds and snow, and in the second program you joined Diana Freckman on the floor of the valley, actually standing on ice-covered Lake Hoare. This latter shot required two microwave units, working back to back, and again was the first time ever such a link had been attempted from the valleys.

The Live from Antarctica team sincerely thanks and compliments NSF, NASA, Antarctic Support Associates, the Naval Support Force Antarctica, and the hundreds of other people who made these programs possible.

 | CORRECTION: Diana Freckman is from COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY       |
 | and not from the University of Colorado as listed in the second    |
 | program. We sincerely apologize to Diana and her home institution  |
 | for the unfortunate mistake and have corrected the tapes which     |
 | are being distributed by NASA CORE and others.                     |

Looking Forward to the Next Two Programs

Program 3: SPACESHIP SOUTH POLE, January 10th, 5:30 EST

This program presents EVEN MORE CHALLENGES and involves still more partners. If all goes well, SPACESHIP SOUTH POLE will be the first-ever telecast from what is literally one end of the earth. Many people use the terms "Antarctica" and the "South Pole" interchangeably, but they are not the same and there are great variations between regions. You will be able to see the difference between the McMurdo area -- the site of the first two programs -- and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, about 900 miles away, high on the polar plateau.

(As you'll see, below, these differences are at the heart of this week's two-part Challenge Question.)

Communications from the pole are far more difficult than from McMurdo. To date, only Internet video using the computer program "CU-See-Me" has been successfully transmitted on an experimental basis, one frame per second, and often without sound.

Both NSF and NASA have been very interested in working with our Passport to Knowledge team exploring "real TV" signals. Our educational program demonstrations may lead to a more permanent communications infrastructure. But for now, to bring video out of the South Pole requires "borrowing" a satellite, GOES-2, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and establishing a different "signal path" than the one we used to bring you the first two programs.

The GOES-2 satellite has largely outlived its original mission of obtaining weather data, though it still transmits some weather images from the Southern Hemisphere. It has drifted to an orbital position in which it is "visible" for 4-5 hours per day from the pole. The program time of 5:30 Eastern ST was selected because it is the earliest time the satellite will be in position.

then down to a facility administered by the Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Miami, where it will be bounced back up again by a mobile satellite truck to a domestic "bird" and then down to Maryland Public Television and WTTW in Chicago.

Meanwhile, another satellite, Comsat's MARISAT, will be carrying the cueing audio which will allow the production staff to communicate with the camera crews and the field directors at the Pole. If it sounds pretty complicated IT IS! We want you to understand these technical procedures for a practical reason:

Anywhere along this live communication path,
something could go wrong.

We have the back-up date of January 12th. If we find we cannot establish a good audio and video signal in the test period before the broadcast, we will "punt" and try again two days later, on the 12th. If we have a good signal -- as preliminary tests have succeeded in establishing -- and lose audio or video after the program has begun, we will continue with students and standby live guests at our U.S. sites -- an expert on astronomy at the Pole from Chicago, the architect for the new South Pole station in Hawaii, and 3rd graders who have been in touch via Cu-SeeMe and e-mail with April Lloyd, their teacher, who is now at the Pole.

Just like in a traditional field trip, LIVE FROM ANTARCTICA is subject to weather and other unforeseen circumstances. We have noted these possibilities in all of our communications with you. But, like dedicated teachers planning field trips, we, the crew and support staff in Antarctica, as well as team members throughout the US, have been hard at work right through the holidays to try to create a successful adventure for you and your students.

These programs are only possible through a complex collaboration among hundreds of people and many organizations. (I am sure you noticed the long list of credits at the end of the TV programs.) In the past, it is the kind of effort which might be mounted to support a space mission or a weapons test, but we are delighted to find NSF, NASA, NOAA and public television collaborating on a challenging "first" -- all for the sake of an innovative educational experience... truly, a demonstration of "distance learning".

Program Three Highlights:

The program will also feature videotaped reports showing how the U.S. Geological Survey, another key partner in this program, calculates the exact geographic South Pole using satellite and other data, and why the marker of 90 degrees South latitude, 0 (zero or 360) degrees longitude needs to be moved each year. We hope to see 17-year old Chicago student Elizabeth Felton move the South Pole on camera!

There'll be tape showing astronomy at the Pole, and the rigors of life at the end of the earth. Kids already know what happens at the North Pole during the holidays (thanks to Tim Allen's film THE SANTA CLAUSE!), but LIVE FROM ANTARCTICA will show you Christmas Eve and a present-exchange at the >South< Pole. Also, watch out for the first-ever "round the world" unicycle odyssey!

Based in part on educator feedback from the "discuss-lfa" list, and partly on the unique character of this program and the fact that we will have a teacher -- April -- and a student -- Elizabeth -- as our "far-flung correspondents", SPACESHIP SOUTH POLE will have more of an "event" feel... looking around the environment through their words and our camera eyes. Since the more relaxed and personal question-and-answer format worked well in program 2, we're going to try to keep that informality, and add this new dimension.

The next days are going to see very hard work by all the players mentioned above, as well as by the astronomers and educators of CARA, the Center for Astrophysics in Antarctica, who are April's and Elizabeth's sponsors at the Pole. Jim Sweitzer, Al Harper and Bob Loewenstein, among many others from CARA, have been working with us on these plans for some time, and have developed many online files with background information on astronomy at the Pole which you can easily find on the gopher menu. Our thanks to them also... and you can read Jim's Field Journal online, detailing his trip to the Pole, as well as updates from April and Elizabeth.

Program Four Highlights

We're keeping our fingers crossed for SPACESHIP SOUTH POLE, the most adventurous program in our series so far, but can also promise you that the last program, FROM POLE TO PLANET, will bring in some additional new elements, involving real-world data streams on ozone, a demonstration of students and online "tele-science", and a link between Barrow, Alaska -- the northernmost school system in the U.S., Maryland and Antarctica. So the excitement of program 3, should continue to build toward this final adventure.

And, as you'll see below, there are also several new elements in the online component of LFA. We've been busy on many fronts, and we hope the New Year will be rewarding and productive for all of us as we explore new territory, just as Roald Amundsen did when he was the first to reach the Pole in December 1911. We hope we all get there safely, and back!

                      --------------- 2 --------------
               ---====|   T E L E C O M P U T I N G   |=====---

We provide the following activities:

           An interactive environment for students
           An interactive environment for teachers
           Students' questions to the Antarctic Team
           Regular Challenge Questions for students
           An expanding encyclopedia of question-answer pairs
           Research Journals written by our Antarctic Explorers
           Online Teacher's guide
           More activities to extend program content in the classroom
           Resource materials on Antarctica
           Links to world-wide resources available on the Internet

Progess Report

Challenge Question:

We will be announcing the answer and winner of the first Challenge question during program three. please do not send in any more responses to this question.

This week's CHALLENGE QUESTION might be more appropriate to the high school students, or some enterprising middle-schoolers, and it comes in two parts:


Take care! Antarctica has as much surface area as the Moon, and is about 1 1/2 times larger than the United States. Although many people speak about the continent as if "Antarctica" and the "South Pole" were synonymous, that's not correct and is positively misleading in some ways relevant to this question!


While there will be no prizes for the responses to this question and your teachers and peers will be the jury, we hope you find responding to the challenge rewarding! There'll be a Challenge Question about Ozone published next Monday, Jan 9th., with the answer revealed during the final LIVE FROM ANTARCTICA broadcast, on January 19th, 1995.

Good luck... and you should be able to find out almost all you need to know about this week's Challenge Question online. You might try the NSF's FACTS ABOUT THE U.S. ANTARCTIC PROGRAM; finding the answer from materials online is fair but sending the question to the Antarctic Researchers is not. If you send a question that is similar to the Challenge Question, we will not send your response until after the answer to the Challenge Question is announced.

Research Journals

A growing selection of journals has begun to accumulate. New additions include writings from Mark Barabe (Antarctic fireman), Terry Trimingham (radio operator) and Katy McNitt (South Pole atmosphere expert).

Information has been added about the experts who are answering questions and contributing journals. The type of material varies for each person, but topics covered include:

                present job description,
                career and educational history,
                personal motivations,
                goals and future plans.

These mini-biographies can be found on the gopher and web archives in the Question/Answer and Journal sections.

Questions to Scientists

Many people have taken advantage of the opportunity to send their personal questions to the folks in Antarctica. To date we have processed over 200 separate questions.

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