Live from the Hubble Team at the National Science Teachers Association Meeting in St. Louis

Section 6 - Live from Mars

Next school year,we will be doing a project called Live from Mars. This will feature information about the Mars Pathfinder mission which is scheduled to launch in December of 1996 and land on the Red Planet on July 4th, 1997. Once it gets there, a little rover will drive out and explore the Martian landscape.

1. On Friday evening, we had a planning session to talk about the upcoming project (including a summer workshop this coming July 19-21). Cheick Diarra leads the outreach effort for Mars Pathfinder. He is on the left of the photo. Other Passport to Knowledge/K-12 Internet Initiative folks included (clockwise around the table from Cheick) Andrea McCurdy (barely visible), Joe Exline, Erna Agukinow and Pat Haddon (only her back). Geoff, Jan and Marc were also present but not pictured.
2. The team of folks sharing Mars Pathfinder information about with teachers was (l-r) Cheik Diarra, Cathy Davis and Aimee Whalen.
3 Here is Aimee showing off a life-sized model of the Mars Rover; notice the solar panels which will power its Martian exploration.
4. Here are two models of the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft. To the left is the configuration that will get the payload near the planet. Once it lands, the triangular solar panels open to reveal the Base Station. Notice the Rover resting on the rightmost panel. Once it drives off, the Rover will communicate with scientists on Earth via the base station. Eventually, Martian wind storms will cover the solar panels of the Rover and Base Station with too much dust and mission will come to an end.
5. Here Cheick enthralls teachers with the exciting story of the landing on Mars. First friction with the atmosphere and then a parachute slow the spacecraft. Next retrorockets fire to further reduce the rate of descent. Finally, a series of special balloons inflate around the payload and the whole contraption cuts itself free from the parachute and plummates towards Mars. After many bounces (the first one is 90 feet high), the spacecraft comes to a basketball-style resting place. The ballooons deflate, the Base Station solar panels open and Rover comes driving out. What fun!