Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.

ANNOUNCING the >>final<< CONSENSUS....


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 debate-lfm.

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."


  1. Thermometer (Celsius) - for air, ground, water temps

  2. 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.)

  3. 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.

  4. Ten-power Magnifying lens -- for close up views

  5. Compass -- use for determining direction of winds and plotting data collection site

  6. Topographical map of site -- for interpretation of terrain, assisting in data collection plotting, etc.

  7. Metric Tape - measurements, use for showing scale in images, etc.

  8. Protractor, 0.5M string, and weight -- for those who will be determining their own latitude via angle measurements

  9. Zip lock bags, film containers, and airtight containers -- for "sample collection" of soil, rock, vegetation, water, etc.

  10. Dissecting kit -- replaces Swiss Army Knife

  11. Small rock hammer -- to assist collecting rock samples, digging for soil sample, etc.

  12. 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.

  13. Core sampler -- small section of plastic piping for collecting soil sample

  14. Gloves -- for use by sample collectors to prevent contamination of samples


  1. 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 4th.

  2. 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 local needs.

  3. 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).

  4. 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 be made. 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.

  5. 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. 

  6. 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.

  7. 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 participants 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.