From: (Jan Wee): Heidi Hammel's clarification on the Hubble Space Telescope!

From: (Jan Wee): 4 days until DECISION DAY! And a few reminders!

From: (Jan Wee): Reta Beebe Shares More Input on Jupiter and the Galileo Spacecraft!

From: (Jan Wee): Alex Storr's file on the Hubble Space Telescope

From: Geoff Haines-Stiles: Discuss-HST

From: Geoff Haines-Stiles Subject: The Houston Planet Choice (fwd)

From: Jon Yiesla: Planet Choice

From: Marilyn Kennedy: planet choice

From: Entering the Debate

From: Lee Matyola: planet choice

From: Jan Wee: Gates Intermediate School Input

From: Scott Coletti: Two 8th grade classes argue and vote

From: Margaretha Gebhart: Planet Choice

From: Jan Wee: Margaretha Gebhardt's student input (attached files) ***************************************************

From: (Jan Wee): Heidi Hammel's clarification on the Hubble Space Telescope!

Hi everyone,

There seems to be confusion in some groups about "sending" the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to Pluto or Neptune or whereever. Yes, HST is a spacecraft, but it does NOT travel away from Earth - it is always in orbit around the Earth. This is different from the Voyager or Galileo spacecraft, which do go to the planet they study. HST is a telescope that we will point at whichever planet or planets you choose to study.

HST has already looked at least once at each of the planets we are discussing. You REALLY should look at a picture of each of them, so that you know the kind of data you are going to get. New pictures of Neptune will look something like older HST pictures of Neptune, *not* like Voyager pictures of Neptune. New pictures of Pluto will look like older HST pictures of Pluto; the resolution (quality) will not be any better. It is important that you keep this in mind!

So why should we look at any of these planets again? Because all of them change! As a Neptune advocate, I've explained why I think it is a great target: it is far enough that you really need HST to study it properly, but it is big enough that you get good pictures. Its clouds change very quickly, and we don't understand how, when, or why. With Neptune, you are guaranteed to see something interesting, even in just one orbit.

But I think all the planets you are discussing are neat. The atmosphere and surface of Pluto may be changing as it moves further from the Sun. There may be new clouds on Uranus as its equator gets sunlight for the first time in many many years. And Jupiter is a target of intense interest right now, due to the Galileo Mission and the comet crash that happened last year. No matter which you choose, you will learn interesting things! Good luck during this final week of discussion.

Heidi Hammel

P. S. We are still working very hard on the new Neptune data we got - it turns out that it was the second orbit that was ruined by the loss of lock, not the third like I originally thought. I still don't know if there's a new Dark Spot or not, because we have been working very hard on the "navigation." This means figuring out exactly how to turn the positions of clouds in a picture into real latitudes and longitudes on Neptune. This process is complicated, it depends on the exact timing of the picture and where Earth is, where Neptune is, and where the Space Telescope is in its orbit around the Earth at that precise time. This part of the work is sometimes tedious and frustrating, but it is necessary to really understand what is in the images. Today and tomorrow we will be looking hard at the images of Neptune themselves. I'm looking forward to that!

Heidi Hammel, Planet Advocate


From: (Jan Wee): 4 days until DECISION DAY! And a few reminders!

Dear discuss-hst members,

We are only 4 days until our D-Day... *Decision Day* and there has been so much "food for thought" put on our "table" by our Planet Advocates, Bill Gutsch, our participating teachers and students, and Alex Storr (by the way, I have another file from Alex coming your way today giving us more detail about the how's and why's of the HST).

I have a few reminders.... we will be reaching our final decision by CONSENSUS rather than counting of individual "votes!" Our Executive Producer, Geoff Haines-Stiles, will be sharing the specifics of the process we will use to reach this consensus. It is important that we as a discussion group read the comments shared by Alex and the Planet Advocates and think critically about our choices.

On behalf of this forum, I would like to WELCOME our international members which seem to be growing by leaps and bounds (with the help of Dr. Bill Gutsch!). It is a great thrill to have the Passport to Knowledge membership expand to students, educators, scientists, and specialists from Russia, Turkey, Japan, and *many other international locales*! A global perspective is a much broader and more stimulating one. So, students from middle school N 54 in Donetsk and *students around the globe* we extend a hearty welcome and to your facilitators (adult guides)!

One more reminder: NASA-TV has scheduled re-broadcasts of "The Great Planet Debate" for this Friday, December 15th, next Monday, December 18th, Thursday, December 21st, Tuesday, December 26th, and Friday, December 29th. The broadcasts are 30 minutes long and are carried at 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm EASTERN!!

Have a great day! :-) Jan Wee, discuss-hst moderator


From: (Jan Wee): Reta Beebe Shares More Input on Jupiter and the Galileo Spacecraft!

To: discuss-hst members
From: Reta Beebe, Jupiter Planet Advocate

Subject: Jupiter As Observed by Galileo

The Galileo Spacecraft is in orbit and the motion of Earth and Jupiter as they orbit the Sun is such that on December 18 the Sun will be directly between us and Jupiter. The Sun generates lots of static in the radio signal that is transmitted from the spacecraft to earth. This interfers with transmission of the probe data. Even so the probe scientists have retrieved almost an hour of data and though the static is a problem they are working on understanding it.

When the Earth's motion carries us around so we can see Jupiter in the morning sky they will signal the spacecraft to send some of the data again. In February Jupiter will move far enough from the sun to use HST again and my team will obtain 11 orbits of data at that time.

The Galileo Spacecraft will orbit back around to the daylight side of the planet and on 27 June 1996 a detailed set of closeup observations of the Red Spot is planned. My team has asked to observe Jupiter wit HST at that time but we have not received permission.

Although the Red Spot has existed for many years, it's appearance and the cloud structure around it is quite variable, therefore if you choose to observe the Red Spot, several weeks ahead of time graduate students from New Mexico State University can work with Alex Storrs to determine in which HST orbits it will be visible s that you could study it with just one orbit of your allocated time. Thus, you could interact with scientists who have instruments on the orbiting spacecraft.

The following is a current report from Marcie Smith at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Galileo: Probe entry / Orbit Insertion + 5 days

_ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Subject: OFFICE MEMO Probe status 12/11
Time: 9:31 AM
Date: 12/11/95

The data stored on the Orbiter from the Probe continues to be returned. We have received data scattered throughout the relay and the scientists are busy analyzing. The data has lots of holes due to the noise from superior conjunction. We did get data from both data strings and from what we have so far it seems that the link lasted for 57 minutes. Since it seemed to lock up about 4 minutes after entry, then we should have data for about an hour after entry. Indications are that all instruments turned on. Scientists are still determining if they are working as expected.

Marcie Smith


From: (Jan Wee): Alex Storr's file on the Hubble Space Telescope

Dear discuss-hst members,

To add to your understanding of the Hubble Space Telescope, STScI astronomer, Alex Storr, shares the following explanation.

Jan Wee, moderator of discuss-hst


What can Space Telescope do?

When trying to decide which planet to observe, it is important to keep in mind the limitations of HST and of observations in general. What one can actually observe is often quite remote from the question one wants to answer. As an example, let me describe my motivation: individuals and classes might want to make a similar hierarchy for their planet.

  1. I want to know if there are other Earths in our galaxy.

  2. Thus I want to know if there are other planetary systems.

  3. Until very recently, the only one we have to study is ours, so I want to know how our solar system formed.

  4. I choose to study the leftover debris from solar system formation, the comets and asteroids.

  5. One fundamental question about these bodies is "What are they made of?"

  6. To answer this question we make spectra and look for the signature of elements and compounds.

  7. Cometary spectra are strongly influenced by the motion of the coma.

  8. Thus some of my research is dedicated to analyzing the motion of gas and dust in cometary comae-- esp. that of Halley's comet.

So you see, what I can actually DO is very distant from what actually interested me in the first place. In selecting a planet, it is important to remember not just the big question(s), but to go down the chain to see what little questions can be addressed with this particular instru- ment (HST).

Astronomers don't really look directly through the HST at a planet, star or galaxy. Instead, they use four major scientific instruments that are attached to the HST. Two of these are cameras, and two are instruments known as spectrographs.

The cameras take PICTURES like the ones you see in books or on the LFHST or SCScI web pages. The spectrographs split the light of planets, stars and galaxies into a spectrum of colors (like a prism does with sunlight) and then make a one-dimensional image of this spectrum.

The cameras and spectrographs don't use film but instead take pictures electronically rather like your home camcorder. But the equipment in the HST's cameras are much more sensitiuve to light than your home equipment because most objects in space are very faint. Also, pictures are recorded in only black and white but using computers on earth, astronomers can combine two or more black and white pictures taken through different colored filters to make a picture incolor. (We'll explain more of how this is done in a later posting).

One of the HST's cameras is known as the Wide-Field/Planetary Camera (WFPC pronounced "wiff pick" for short). It records its images on four devices known as CCD's (Charge Coupled Devices) instead of film. The four CCD's are arranged to make a bigger square than could be done with just one CCD alone (like combining four squares that are next to each other on a checker board).

The other HST camera is known as the Faint Object Camera (FOC). It works more like an old fashioned TV camera but the point is that in both cameras the light coming into the HST from the planet, star or galaxy gets converted into electricity and this electrical signal is then beamed down to earth. The brighter the object at a particular point in the picture, the stronger will be the signal at that point. Then back on earth, the signals can be converted back into a picture of what the HST is looking at. (We'll will explain this in more detail later and you will be able to do activities from your LFHST Teacher's Guide to better understand how this all works.) Again, the same kind of process takes place in your home camcorder. And just like with your home camcorder, the cameras on HST can be used over and over again to take pictures of different things. This is another advantage of electronic cameras over film cameras because with film cameras a piece of film can only hold one image and then a new piece of film must be put into the camera if another picture is to be taken.

Get up close to your TV set and you will see that what looks like a complete picture from a distance of several feet is really made up of a whole bunch of little dots. The same is true of the pictures that come down from the HST. Each little dot is known as a "picture element" or "pixel" for short. The bigger an object appears in the HST's cameras, the more pixels will make up its image and the more detail we will see. If an image has more detail, astronomers say that it has greater "spatial resolution". Also, because different types are technology are used in the two HST camers, the WFPC has larger pixels than the FOC and so, in general, can see less detail. But the WFPC allows us to see a larger area of the sky. And there are other differences. The FOC is generally able to see farther into the ultraviolet part of the spectrum than the WFPC but the WFPC can see farther into the red portion of the spectrum (and so, for example, can see those methane cloud features that Rita Beebe talked about a few days ago).

Now let's turn to the other two instruments -- the spectrographs. The spectrographs also act like electronic cameras but again they create images of the SPECTRA of planets, stars and galaxies NOT pictures of the planets, stars and galaxies themselves. Spectra, however are very important to astronomers because an analysis of an object's spectrum can tell us an extraordinary amount about the object including things like what it is made of and its temperature. The spectrographs also really focus in on a very small portion of the sky so, in the case of large planets like Jupiter, you don't take a spectrum of the whole planet but instead only a selected small portion. This, however, would allow you to concentrate on, for example, Jupiter's Great Red Spot or the rings of Uranus and not the planet itself if that's what you wanted to do.

The two HST spectrographs are known as the Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS) and the Goddard High Resolution Spectrometer (GHRS). (So many words and letters to remember!) Again, both of these instruments spread out the light of planets, stars and galaxies into a spectrum of colors. The GHRS, however, spreads the light out more (kind of like spreading out a dab of peanut butter more over a wider piece of bread). Because it spreads out the spectrum more, it allows astronomers to see more detail in the spectrum. That's why we call it a HIGH RESOLUTION Spectrometer. But because it does spread the spectrum out more, the spectrum is that much fainter (like the peanut better is that much thinner). For this reason, we cannot typically use the GHRS on really faint objects. Fortunately, planets are very bright. There is another difference, too. The GHRS works better in the far ultraviolet than the FOS (so if, for some reasonyou need to see an object's far ultraviolet spectrum, you'll have to use the GHRS).

So as you consider which planet you want to observe with the HST, there are many things to consider. Just what specific question or questions you think you want to answer about which planet will, in turn, point you toward using one instrument on the HST vs another. And the capabilities and limitations of the different instruments will, in turn, give you an idea of which questions you can hope to answer and which you cannot. There will always be tradeoffs. Welcome to doing science!

As a general rule, I have found that the more you understand something, the more you may find data of greater detail (higher spectral resolution) to be of value. It's like with anything else -- first you want to look at the overall picture, then you want to zero in for a closer look at specific details. That's what you do when looking at a picture in a magazine and that's what we do in studying a planet. Then you can take a close up picture of that special feature or you can zero in and take a spectrum. And the same is true for spectra. First, you might want to take a look at the whole spectrum not very spread out and then zero in for a closer look (a higher resolution spectrum) of a particular part of the spectrum.

Finally, let's talk a little about how much of the sky can be seen with the HST at one time. Astronomers measure the width of most objects in the sky in a unit called an arc second. A full circle has 360 degrees in it. So the sky, from say the eastern horizon to a point straight overhead (the zenith) to the western horizon contains a half circle's whole of degrees or 180 degrees. Each degree can be broken down into 60 minutes of arc (this has nothing to do with time, we just use the same words). And each minute of arc can, in turn, be divided into 60 seconds of arc. By way of an example, the moon is about 30 minutes of arc across in the sky (or, in other words, about 30 x 60 = 1800 seconds of arc across).

Now, to put things into perspective, the instrument with the widest field of view on the HST is the WFPC and, at any one time, it can only see a little square in the sky about 160 seconds of arc on a side -- far, far less than the diameter of the full moon. Remember also that this image is actually made up of little pixels. Given the size of the individual pixels, we can further calculate that the WFPC can see details on an object that are roughly one tenth of one second of arc across (which can also be written 0.1"). Put a fancier way, we would say that the spatial resolution of the WFPC is about 0.1". For different objects at different distances from earth, this corresponds to different actual sized objects in miles or kilometers. (Part of this camera, however, can actually see even clearer. In a small square only 32 seconds of arc on a side, the camera can actually see details down to a resolution of only 0.043'".

By comparison, the FOC see an area in the sky about 7 minutes of arc on a side (also written 7'). The spectrographs see much, much smaller sections of the sky but remember, we don't use them to take "pretty picture" but rather to zero in on stars and parts of planets and galaxies to get their spectra.

Some planetary facts: At the time of observation (3/14/96),

JUPITER will be 35.8" (833 PC pixels) in diameter, and spatial resolution will be about 180 km;

URANUS will be 3.5" (80 PC pixels) in diameter, and spatial resolution will be about 665 km;

NEPTUNE will be 2.3" (53 PC pixels) in diameter, and spatial resolution will be about 1000 km;

PLUTO will be 0.1" (2-3 PC pix, or about 8 FOC pix) in diameter, and spatial resolution will be about 965 km;.

Io will pass in front of Jupiter early in the morning (about midnight EST).

Triton will be 15" from Neptune (near closest approach)-- you'll get both in one PC image, although Triton will only be 3-4 pixels across.

Charon will be near closest approach to Pluto, although it will be only 1 PC pixel, maybe 4 FOC pixels, across.


From: Geoff Haines-Stiles

Dear Updates-hst,

There seem to be more of you registered for "updates-hst" than for "discuss-hst", but for the past few weeks, "discuss" has been where the action has been. Students all across America, and also in Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Japan, Greece and Turkey (!), have been researching which of the 4 planets we should observe with our 3 HST orbits. Teachers report parents have been dragooned into driving through snowy Virginia to collect books from libraries 2 hours away! Others have been leaving their driving to the Information Highway. Still others say their students are coming up with VERY informed questions when they visit planetariums these days. All in all, the process is doing just what we hoped: becoming exciting, interactive education even before we get our "hands on the Hubble". There's just 3 days left to express an opinion. The Internet works at the speed of light, and we try to also, so it's not too late to give us input! Remember, this is NOT a vote, but we are looking for a consensus decision, and teachers, students, astronomers and PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE will be coming up with the final choice this Friday.

We hope you'll be with us now, and in the coming months, as that choice is transformed into commands for the HST, and we gear up for the live, interactive video programs in March and April, 1996.

Thanks for your interest. Onwards and Upwards... and stay cool and connected.

Project Director and Executive Producer,


From: Geoff Haines-Stiles Subject: The Houston Planet Choice (fwd)






---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Carolyn Sumners
Subject: Re: The Houston Planet Choice

We are submitting votes from three sources:

  1. The Houston Independent School District fourth graders who visit the Planetarium each morning. Every year we do 15,000 of these students. This year we have been questioning students about which of the outer planets they would like to visit. For this audience, the runaway favorite is Pluto. They like the name, the fact that it's small and we don't know much about it. Most kids do not know that Pluto has a moon. We present Pluto as a mystery -- why is it's orbit inclined? why is it so small? Is Pluto an escaped moon of Neptune or a comet trapped in the outer solar system?
  2. The Museum's Team Science (families) Club debated the choices and came to the following conclusions (representing ages 4 - 50). These are in the student's words:

    1. Nobody is interested in Uranus
    2. Jupiter is a good idea because we can get more detailed images since it's bigger and closer than the others. Also kids would like to see Io and Europa up close.
    3. Neptune because of the storms and the big moon Triton. One student likes to study weather and was very interested in Neptune's storms.
    4. Pluto because it's so far away and mysterious.

  3. The secret ballot produced the following:
    Pluto: 48%
    Neptune: 33%
    Jupiter: 19%

  4. The Astronomy Staff Our spring planetarium show is called Journey to the Giants and is formatted to feature this project. We really don't want to rename it Journey BEYOND the Giants. Our vote is for anything but Pluto (see how good we were at influencing our students!). Our favorite is Neptune - with a look for new storms.
So Houston gives you 2 groups voting for Pluto and the staff hoping for Neptune.

Thanks for the chance to participate.



From: Jon Yiesla: Planet Choice

Although I have a great interest in Jupiter, I think that I would vote for Uranus or Neptune. Mars is so close that we really know a great deal about it. I kind of feel the same about Saturn, although I know that there is a great deal we don't know about Saturn. We have just sent Gaileo to Jupiter so we are going to get good data there and Pluto is so far away, that I almost think it is not as good a use of resources. Both Uranus and Neptune are far enough away that it isn't as easy to get good data with ground based telescopes and equipment. Yet they are big enough for the HST to probably get some good data. They are interesting planets, at least for one reason, that we really don't know a great deal about them and a lot of what we do know came recently from the Voyager probes. Anyway, I babble. I vote for either Uranus or Neptune.



From: Marilyn Kennedy: planet choice

Hello discuss-hst members,

A report from John Wayland Elementary, a rural school located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Today was the BIG DAY, the day of our "Great Debate". My students have taken this HST debate very seriously, and they have put their heart and soul into this whole issue. And as I watched each team debate the merits of their "planet", I could not have been more proud of this group of ten year old students. Since our intiation into LFS project back in September, my class (and I humbly include myself) have come so far,and we learned so much together. This morning in the midst of our "Great Debate" I had a visiting cooperating teacher from a local university observing my students in action. As he listened to each team's presentation, his eyes got wider and wider. He could not believe the information and arguments being proposed for each planet by this group of elementary students.

And the most extraordinary thing that I have been able to witness was the "evolution of opinion" that occurred in my students as they got ready for their "Great Debate." Fourth grade students are very literal minded;they tend to see issues in terms of black or white, without any shades of grey. When my students viewed the initial satellite broadcast on the four planet choices, the majority of my students immediately voiced their initial votes for Pluto. No big surprise!

But since that broadcast, my students have become "student-researchers", a role new to most of them. My "student-researchers" have been viewing videos, reading books, visiting pertinent web sites, comparing the different HST pictures of the 4 planets in question, and of course reading ALL the messages posted on discuss-hst. They picked up on Pat's suggestion and displayed first a US map and then a WORLD map, putting a star on the location of each school/planetarium involved in this "Great Debate." The level of excitement went up a decibel or two with the posting of the international messages from Germany, Ukraine, and Japan. They were rather envious of the planetarium in Munich; what an experience it would be for them to visit such a place. Word had spread throughout the school about what my students were doing, and one of our staff had an uncle involved in the early days of the Hubble project. So I quickly extended an invitation to this gentleman, and he came in to speak to my class. He came in to "lecture" and soon found himself in "discussion" with my students about this whole "planet of choice" issue. He was quite surprised and quite impressed with these elementary 4th grade students.

As the planet advocates updated us with their messages, clarifying our ideas about what the Hubble could and could not do, my students began to rethink and revise their "opinions" about which planet should be studied. Rethinking and looking at issue from another perspective was definitely a new experience for many of them(an experience often missed by many adults). Perhaps Pluto would not be their planet of choice.

And so after each team presented their arguments, we took a vote. And the results were:

Jupiter- 48%


Uranus- 16%

Pluto- 11%

In a separate message each team will post the arguments for each planet.

Aside note: Jan and Geoff, I will send each of you a video tape of our "great debate". We are only elementary students, but we have come so far and learned so much in these Passport to Knowledge projects.

Looking forward to the posting of the general consensus of the discuss-hst teams. Whatever planet is finally chosen we will all be winners because the greatest and most important discoveries/insights have already been made....

Learning is exciting,
Learning is ongoing process, continually evolving,
Learning is relevant to our everyday world, and Learning is collaborative effort!

Marilyn Wall
Fourth grade
John Wayland Elementary
Bridgewater, Virginia


From: Entering the Debate

Greetings to all from New York City's Harlem/Washington Heights Neighborhood,

Our 8th grade earth science class has just begun an investigation of our solar system after completing a study of Newton's laws of motion. To understand Newton's laws we designed and launched soda bottle rockets propelled by various combinations of water and air pressure. We also tested modifications in the exterior design of the rocket to optimize the rocket's aerodynamic performance. These activiites were modeled on NASA educational materials, and they were great learning experiences.

We are just beginning to learn to utilize the Net for information and communication, and just heard about your HST project. What a fantastic way to create excitement about investigations. Our only problem is that we seem to be just about too late. I have been unable to locate a copy of the "Great Planet Debate" video, and nobody any of us knows has access to a satellite dish to receive NASA TV. We're still trying to figure that one out. There is also so much correspondence to sift through all at once, and we have only this one connection to use to access the mail. I've been printing out messages that seem to be representative of the student responses for us to get the flavor of this way of communicating. We read Carolyn Poroo's recent message today together in class, and that was very stimulating of discussion. I found her listing of several important issues in space science that are made clearer in the discussion of which planet to view very helpful in organizing some of our ideas. We listed and discussed some questions raised, a) Why is earth so different from other planets, especially such that life as we know it developed here? b) What causes satellites to form, break apart and reform? [When this teacher heard that Miranda may have broken apart and reformed six or more times I immediately decided I needed to see that jigsaw moon - what an amazing notion!!] - all the questions concerning the effects of catastrophic collisions on the solar system inhabitants. c) Why do the terrestrial planets appear to have fewer satellites than the gas giants? Questions (concepts) like these help up organize our investigations and try to make sense of information we receive. Would it be possible for you to publish all the previously recived messages from the planet advocates into one document that you could publish for our "Johnny come latelies" to the project? We would greatly appreciate that.

The students each have done some preliminary investigations about the four candidates and then discussed their initial ideas with their cooperative group mates. Initially five of the seven groups opted for Pluto, primarily because of its far distance and eccentricity("We don't even know if its a planet," someone commented.) Once group commented that "Our lack of interest in such an eccentric planet is quite disrespectful." Pluto's "Mystery" seems to hold great allure. Two other groups chose Uranus, " Mystery" was again an operative word, and the opportunity to study satellites and rings at the same time was attractive. Where going to continue reading material and deepening our understanding and think again about our choices.

One idea that came up in our class today was about how the information that we get from HST in March might be visualized. We saw a video that used computer simulations of a flight over the surfaces of various planets and moons. The simulations were based on the data that had been collected from various spacecraft. Would it be feasible for you to do this for the data we get from the three rotations of HST? That would be fun.

We'll be in touch again. Greetings to all around the world from Susan Herzog and Class 802 of the Mott Hall School, IS 223, District 6, Manhattan, New York City


From: Lee Matyola: planet choice

Neptune is a very interesting planet, and we think that The Hubble Space Telescope should be directed toward Neptune. There are many things about Neptune that astronomers can only come up with theories to explain, but with the help of this telescope we could have facts instead of theories about Neptune.

Neptune appears black from earth but in reality it is aqua in color, the telescope could help us to find out why this occurs. What substances are present to make this color? Another thing about Neptune is that we don't know too much about its ring. What are they composed of? Could the one ring that we see really be many rings or clusters of different types of material. If Neptune is picked we just might have the answers if we use the telescope to examine the rings. Neptune has 8 moons that we know of, if we could get a closer look at Neptune we might also be able to look at the moons and learn more about their surfaces. A very interesting and mysterious thing about Neptune is its scooter, the large white cloud that can race around the northern portion of Neptune in about 16 earth hours. What is this scooter and why is it there? What is it made of and why does it travel at such tremendous speeds? These questions might too be answered with the help of the telescope. But the most important, controversial, and interesting thing about Neptune is that in 1989 a giant white spot appeared on Neptune, but disappeared in 1994. A similar thing occurred in the 70's. Why did this happen? What were these spots exactly, and when if ever will this occur again? Scientists have a theory that these spots form in a pattern, but we aren't sure. The telescope could help us to study the atmospheric patterns and try to find a link with these spots. If we have a better under standing of this planet we call Neptune than maybe we might have a better understanding of our earth. Who knows what else there is to find on Neptune until we look. There was also a strong voice for Jupiter for our Hubble experiments. We felt that if the probe from Galileo gave us certain information then looking at the planet with another tool might help us learn more about the kind of information that Hubble can provide. Sometimes looking at the same object from two perspectives gives a better overall picture. This group was in the minority but was a strong and unswayable minority. We are a 9th grade Earth Science class at Madison High School in New Jersey. Madison High has about 550 students and is in a small suburban town near New York City.


From: Jan Wee: Gates Intermediate School Input

>From Gates Intermediate School:

After much debate and MUCH reporting we have decided to present our results in the following way. My physical science classes watched the Nova program "To Boldy Go . . ." which outlined the Voyager mission to the Jovians. They also read the e-mails from the sponsoring scientists, and finally watched NASA's video outlining the project. My earth sceince classes researched the four planets (along with all of the others) and presented oral reports on the selected four. They also saw both videos. Given below are composite essays that students created for their selections. Also given are the percentages that voted for each planet. Thanks for the chance to do this, it's been real!!!


One reason why we want Jupiter to be picked is because we want to learn about the mysterious winds that circle the planet. We also want to study the Great Red Spot, and watch how objects change as they approach and pass it. We also want to see if there is an explanation for the strange wind jets. Most importantly, since Galileo is already there, we can learn an incredible amount about both the planet and its satellites.

URANUS - 21%

We think that Uranus should be studied for many reasons. How did that planet get tilted 98 degrees on its side? Why do these satellites so much damage compared to satellites of the inner planets?


The major reason why Neptune should be studied is because every time you look at it you see something different! The Great Black Spot is a puzzle! Where will it be - North or South? Did the atmosphere turn upsidedown? Will it be there at all? How do they know that the light striking Neptune is 900 times weaker than the light striking the Earth? Why is it blue?

PLUTO - 23%

Pluto definitely deserves some more recognition. This is the only fair way to go because it is the planet about which we know the least. We should study it now becuae it will never be closer to us. Perhaps by studying this planet we could learn something very interesting, perhaps even helpful. Studying Pluto would really be studying the unknown. All of the other planets have had at least one craft visit.

A personal note - I don't know if you want to call 31%* a runaway top choice, but I must agree with them. Jupiter just seems to generate so much excitement, and there is SO MUCH to see. I think that's important for students. Whenever I show the kids Voyager photos of Jupiter there is a very differnt response. They want to know if they are real. I don't get that from any of the other worlds. My choice is also Jupiter.

* Moderator's note: Mr. Lindgren voted for Jupiter also, and thus the 32% noted above indicates this.

Charles F. Lindgren - Science Teacher of many years
Gates Intermediate School
Scituate, Massachusetts


From: Scott Coletti: Two 8th grade classes argue and vote

Here is the arguments from my two 8th grade technology application classes. One class voted to view Pluto during our 3 orbits. The other class voted to view Jupiter.

Scott L. Coletti

Planet Arguments from Crittenden Middle Schools 8th grade Technology Applications Class, 5th period, Northern Ca.:

Neptune's atmosphere is unexplored. We can see it with one orbit of the HST. You can look at the cloud activity: white clouds - high atmosphere thunderclouds. dark clouds - like hurricanes.

Uranus's orbit is wobbley. We can see its poles and equator because of its orbit, we can get a more complete map. We'd like to know what the rings are made of.

Pluto has patches on it with seasonal changes. It has an elliptical orbit mobing away from the sun. Its atmosphere might crack and blow off. It takes this planet 6 and a half days to orbit. Pluto and Charou (moon) always face each other. Something outside is pulling Pluto out of orbit. This is the smallest planet. It won't be observable after March for 200 to 300 years.

Jupiter's Red Spot may be a humoungus hurricane. The moon Io has observable volcanic activity. It has eight moons and ammonia ice rings. The motion of the clouds are observable. You can observe what makes the wind blow.

Planet Arguments from Crittenden Middle Schools 8th grade Technology Applications Class, 8th period, Northern Ca.


-almost the whole atmosphere is unexplored
-gas giants have dark clouds like hurricanes
-the pictures can tell whether certain bands are continuosly active
- twisted rings
-they can observe the Great Dark Spot

-most distant planet in the solar system
-smaller of the gas giants
-dark clouds are common on gas giants


-rotates vertically
-only visited by Voyager II
-first planet discovered in modern times
-10 satellites near its orbit
-each compound and element leaves a signature

-over 3 billion miles away
-we have prior knowledge


-next chance to study Pluto will be in 250 years
-the atmosphere may collapse and the frost will migrate, elliptical
-cooling off, moving away from sun
-moon Charen faces Jupiter all the time
-migrating frost will leave behind darker material
-Six and a half days to rotate


-5.2 billion miles away
-less than half the size of our moon


-most accesible gas planet
-help us to understand Saturn
-easily, visible ammonia
-acts like a marker
-has colorful, volcanic moon
-collision with Shoemaker Levy 9
-wind blows
-thought to have a liquid center.

Scott L. Coletti
Digital Imaging, the net and video in Education
Engaged TODAY in Education for the next century


From: Margaretha Gebhart: Planet Choice

I would like to study Jupiter because it is the largest of the planets. Jupiter has 16 moon and a thin, transparent ring. Jupiter is made primarily of hydrogen and helium gases. Jupiter's atmosphere is its thick cloud cover. Jupiter has the Great Red Spot. Jupiter's core may be iron and silicon. It is also composed of several layers. The gravity of Jupiter is 2 1/2 times that of the earth.

Naomi Clark, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Pluto, I would like to see how many moons are around Pluto? Does anything live on Pluto? If so how would it survive? How could we get to Pluto?

Misty Cope, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Jupiter because it's one of the biggest planets in the solar system. Jupiter did not become a star. From earth, all we can see is cloud cover. I want to know if that is really a hurricane like storm around planet Jupiter.

Ericca Perry, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, IN USA


I want to study Jupiter's rings. I would like to see its 16 moons. I also want to study Jupiter because it is the biggest planet. I want to know how long it has been here.

Jennnifer Gerber, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Uranus because I would like to know how it got its color. How many moons does it have? Why does Uranus have light gases and ice? Why does it have more surface gravity than Earth? Could any lifeforms live there.

Jacki Gruber, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Jupiter. I am interested in Jupiter because it is big, colorful, and neat! I would like to study its Great Red Spot.

Joe Kobel, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Munice, Indiana USA


I woould like to study Pluto. Is it for sure the last planet? Why is Pluto so small?

Dawn Couch, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Neptune. It has a pretty color. Neptune has greater gravity than the Earth. Neptune also has many rings. It is a really interesting planet.

Amanda Andrews, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Pluto. It's so far away from the sun that we know very litle about it.

Amber Waters, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Neptune because I read that it is the Mathematician's Planet. Why do they call Neptune the Mathematician's Planet. I would like to know what Neptune is made of. I would like to know more about the temperature of Neptune.

Rachel Shackelfurd, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Jupiter because I would like to learn about the red eye. What made the red eye? What gases formed Jupiter.

Timothy Smith, Grade 7, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, IN USA


I would like to study the planet Pluto because Pluto is a very interesting planet. Also, Pluto's orbit is more elliptical than the orbits of the other planets. I want to know more about Pluto's one moon, Charon. This moon is almost as large as Pluto itself.

Robert Stewart, Grade 7, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study the planet Jupiter becouse it is the largest planet. I want to see how it rotates compared to any other planet. I think it would be neat to see how big the planet is and to discover something new about it. The diameter of the Great Red Spot is more than three times the diameter of the Earth. Exactly what is the chemical composition of The Great Red Spot?

Bonnie Butler, Grade 7, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study the planet Pluto because it is the smallest of all the planets.It is the ninth planet and farthest from the sun. When scientist and researchers first heard of Pluto they weren't sure where it was and if it was really there. Then they finally found it and thats how Pluto came about. I want to learn more about Pluto.

Heather Crehan, Grade 7, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


From: Jan Wee: Margaretha Gebhardt's student input (attached files)

Dear discuss-hst members,

I have asked to have files sent to ME if you do not have the time/support/schedule to attach student files. The following is additional input from Margaretha's students:

Jan Wee, moderator of discuss-lfs

I would like to study Jupiter because it was almost a star. It has a hurricane on it. Hurricanes are cool. I know it is hotter than the sun. Jupiter has 16 moons orbiting the planet. The days must go fast there.

Jeff Campbell, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Pluto because it is the farthest planet and the people on Earth do not know much about Pluto. I would like to find out if Pluto is really a moon that escaped from Neptune.

Michael Gregory, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Puto becuase it is so far away from the sun. Pluto is the size of a moon. It could be a moon that escaped Neptune. It has a long year. Pluto's orbit is more elliptical than other planets. Pluto may be a double planet.

Joshua Goul, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, Indiana USA


I would like to study Uranus because I like the name of it. I am interested in learning more about its tilted axis. When I do not have anything to do I draw pictures of Uranus. I like its blue-green color.

Ron Conatser, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, IN USA


I would like to study Jupiter because it is the biggest planet. Have astronomers learned alot of new things about Jupiter since the probe was released this week?

Aretha Johnson, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, IN USA


I would like to study Pluto because I would like to know more about how far away Pluto is from Earth. I would also like to know when Pluto first became a planet. How old is Pluto? How much gravity does it have? I would like to learn if it has any more moons. The last thing I would like to learn about Pluto is if there are any life forms present in its atmosphere.

Mike Dickey, Grade 8, Wilson Middle School, Muncie, IN USA