Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.
ANNOUNCING the >>final<< CONSENSUS....
*YOUR* PLANET EXPLORER TOOLKIT!
After weeks and weeks of dedicated effort by participating students
and educators, we PROUDLY announce *your* PLANET EXPLORER TOOLKIT, which
was determined on the basis of collaborative input shared online via
The following represents THE UNIVERSAL BEST TOOLKIT for all planetary
explorers who will soon embark on their upcoming "mission launch" over
the next several weeks.
Like the Mars Pathfinder Mission Team we have had to make tradeoffs
between cost and size, making our final choice of instruments a critical
one that required much discussion. These "all important tools" will help
us >uniquely< describe our local Planetary Sites as we collect data to
share globally with one another and do follow-up interpretive activities.
A PLANETARY DATA INPUT (PDI) form will be distributed to this forum
and via the Live From Mars Web site for all participating classes, as well
as instructions for submitting your "PDI."
P.E.T. TOOLKIT CONTENTS
- Thermometer (Celsius) - for air, ground, water temps
- Anemometer (just like Mars Pathfinder we will use a Windsock!) -
determine wind speed (use Beaufort's scale for wind speed) and wind vane
and compass for wind direction.* ( *See below for more details.)
- Disposable Camera (color/24 images - submit your *4
most revealing* images PLUS a fifth picture of your
"mission scientists" at their Planetary Data Input Site.
- Ten-power Magnifying lens -- for close up views
- Compass -- use for determining direction of winds and
plotting data collection site
- Topographical map of site -- for interpretation of
terrain, assisting in data collection plotting, etc.
- Metric Tape - measurements, use for showing scale in
- Protractor, 0.5M string, and weight -- for those who will be
determining their own latitude via angle measurements
- Zip lock bags, film containers, and airtight containers --
for "sample collection" of soil, rock, vegetation, water, etc.
- Dissecting kit -- replaces Swiss Army Knife
- Small rock hammer -- to assist collecting rock samples, digging
for soil sample, etc.
- Pencils (mechanical), small notebook, permanent felt markers,
and specimen labels (may use masking tape), graph paper --
for recording observations, creating plot map of site
noting locations of samples, labeling samples.
- Core sampler -- small section of plastic piping for collecting
- Gloves -- for use by sample collectors to prevent contamination
KEY LOGISTICAL INFORMATION:
- A PDI (Planetary Data Input) collection form will be posted to this
web site by March 28. This form will be completely filled out by all
participating classrooms/groups and submitted via the web by April
- We request that classes collect data during the time frame of
March 24-April 4th.
It would be optimal to have all classes collect data on the same
date at the same time, but we know this is not practical. We are
targeting "solar noon" for collection time, but if this does not work for
your class, schedule your data collection according to your
- As with many Planetary Missions, we will tap something we consider to
be equivalent to ORBITAL DATA --- information accessed from Weather
Stations, local newspaper/TV weather reports --- to extend
our own GROUND TRUTH data by requesting that all participating
classes submit HIGH and LOW daily temperatures (in Celsius),
HUMIDITY (in %) readings and BAROMETRIC PRESSURE (in Hg).
- Anemometer -- the following information is offered to assist you:
Wind speed is measured with an instrument called an anemometer but
we will be using a wind sock and Beaufort's scale.
It's important to measure wind speed in an open area, as nearby
buildings and narrow alleys can significantly change the speed of
the wind -- Bernoulli's Principle at work. If winds are gusty, an
average of several readings taken over the course of a few minutes should
Wind direction is measured with a wind vane. You can determine the wind
direction by tying a lightweight streamer to the end of a long pole. Use a
compass to note North, South, East and West, and intermediate degrees.
Hold the pole up in the air in the center of the "compass rose." The
direction of the wind is opposite to the direction in which the tail of the
streamer is pointing. As with wind speed, measurements of wind direction
should be made in an open area away from nearby tall obstacles which can
greatly influence the local direction of the wind.
- Sample Collection: Classes will be requested to submit information
describing the soil, water, rocks, plants, trees, animals (birds,
insects, etc.) native to your PDI site. We will not be bringing
guide books along but classes have recording instruments (pencil,
notebook, etc.) and collection tools to gather samples. A 50-ml water
sample will be collected (for those with water on site) and classes
will be expected to have the water tested for pH, hardness, iron.
Students may conduct these tests within their classrooms or utilize
a water-testing service.
- Latitude/Longitude: All classes will need to report their latitude/ longitude in degrees N or S of the equator and degrees E or W of
the prime meridian. Classes will be given more information on
how they *themselves* can determine their latitude and longitude
using simple methods.
- Descriptive information including terrain, biome, indigenous plant
and animal life, etc., will be reported.
CONGRATULATIONS to all classes who assisted in the DESIGN PHASE of the
Live From Mars PLANET EXPLORER TOOLKIT. ****ALL**** classes, regardless of
past participation, are invited to join us in the LAUNCH and DATA
COLLECTION and future interpretive activity PHASES of this project.
We would like to thank Dr. Sanjay Limaye, Dr. David Mittman, and
Dr. Peter Smith who served as our guest experts throughout the
DESIGN PHASE of the P.E.T. Their insights and suggestions have broadened
our perspectives and our understanding of mission planning and the
challenges that real mission planners face. We would also like to
thank Eileen Bendixsen and Mike Reynolds again for their assistance
with budget analysis and data submission form construction! All
deserve a HUGE PAT-ON-THE-BACK for your dedication, critical thinking,
and contributions online during the DESIGN PHASE! :-) Thanks to ALL!
Don't forget that the upcoming April 24th Live From Mars broadcast
*Cruising Between the Planets* will feature the Planet Explorer Toolkit.