Live From Mars WebChat

Date: October 23, 1997

Featuring: Greg Wilson
Planetary Geologist, Pathfinder
Mars Global Surveyor
Ames Research Center, Mountain View, Calfornia

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 09:45:36 ]
Today's "Live From Mars" Web chat with Greg Wilson from NASA's Ames Research Center will begin in about 45 minutes-- 10:30 a.m., PDT... See you soon!

[ Shellie 10:14:50 ]
Hello out there!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 10:15:56 ]
Good Morning Shellie! We'll begin in about 15 minutes. Where are you from?

[ Cindy 10:21:32 ]
I am seeing if we are logged on at the time. We have our questions ready.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 10:24:25 ]
Hi Cindy: I see you! Glad you have questions ready. The chat will begin in the next 5-10 mins. Greg is running a few minutes late...

[ MrSmith 10:31:19 ]
Mr.Smith's class is from Corry Pennsylvania and is in 8th grade.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 10:34:10 ]
RE: [CorryMiddleSchool] We are ready to go!
Welcome Corry Middle School! We will begin momentarily!

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP - 30 - 10:34:37 ]
I am in Dallas and want to welcome Dr. Wilson to our classroom. I am Emily. My question to you is - we have read about wind sensors on Mars measuring the wind speed, do you also use these for major storms on mars?

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 10:35:14 ]
RE: [Lucy] We are here in Sioux Center Middle School ready to meet Greg Wilson.
Hi Lucy and the Sioux Center Middle School! We'll begin shortly!

[ MrSmith 10:36:49 ]
Is there sedimentary rock on Mars?

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 10:37:24 ]
Hi Dr. Wilson my name is Mallory Owen. What are some of the similarities and differences of the particles on earth and on Mars that are blown by the wind?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:39:07 ]
Mallory -- Particles on Mars are formed only by abrasion. On Earth, sand comes form chemical weathering of granite.

[ CorryMiddleSchool 10:37:36 ]
What was going through your mind Doctor Wilson when you recieved the first data from the pathfinder?

[ Lealac/DanburyHS 10:38:07 ]
Almost time? We have interesting questions to get answered.

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 10:38:54 ]
HI! I'm Megha Agrawal. What do you like best about your job and why?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:40:22 ]
Megha - I like working with people... the challenge of landing on Mars and the friendships you make with the people you work with are the BEST!!!!!!

[ Rebecca 10:39:55 ]
Hi, Encinal School is logging on.

[ Hockaday7thgradeSarah 10:40:04 ]
What do you think is the best geological breakthrough on Mars, in your area of expertise?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:41:03 ]
Sarah -- One that has been made...or needs to be made??? Great question! :-)

[ Lucy 10:41:13 ]
We'd also like to know what is used for determining wind at the Sagan Memorial Station and how it works and what has been the average speed and direction of the wind? Would the wind ever get so strong it could blow the Sojourner over?

[ Lealac/DanburyHS 10:41:23 ]
Will this mission lead in any way to a manned exploration of Mars?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:41:03]
Lealac -- We think so. I know more about the conditions in the tunnel then I do about mars...that is way we go there. But I can't simulate the low temperatures....I am working on that!

[ KeystonesOaksHS 10:43:01 ]
We are honored to have this oppertunity to have the question- answer period with you. Our school has questions and will be joining in momentarily.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 10:45:09 ]
Greg Wilson is a planetary geologist working at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Greg is primarily responsible for conducting geologic research in the Mars and Venus wind tunnels and has also done a lot of work in support of the Mars Pathfinder mission. Today he will give us an update on the Mars Pathfinder meteorology experiment.

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:45:46 ]
Hi everyone... Sorry I am late... :-)

[ Hockaday7thgradeTiffany 10:42:25 ]
What data and information have you collected from performing tests with the wind tunnels?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:47:17 ]
Tiffany - we do a lot of wind erosion what wind speeds are needed to move dust on mars. Plus we do testing of intruments like the windsocks on Mars Pathfinder.

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:48:28 ]
RE: [Lealac/DanburyHS] Greg, do the simulations in wind tunnels accurately predict the conditions on Mars?
It does everything except the temperature.

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:49:16 ]
RE: [KeystonesOaksHS] If the core of mars is ice, when their was volcanos what was erupting?
Keystone: But the core is not made of may still be lava or solid!

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:50:35 ]
RE: [Lealac/DanburyHS] Also, to restate my first question, do you think this mission will lead to a manned mission to Mars? And what kind of data would lead to these conclusions?
Lealac: Yes...someday we will need to go to Mars...but that may take a while.

[ Rebecca 10:51:33 ]
What are you presently doing for geology research on Mars and Venus?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:51:33 ]
RE: [Hockaday6thperiodMrsP] Hi my name is Jamie, and I have a question...Mars the god of war, married Venus, the goddess of beauty, they had two children: Deimos and Phebos. These two children were sent to the astroid belt where they stayed for a long time. So their mother thought of sending her son from Mercury to the astroid belt also to be with them. As sdoon as her son arrived Deimos and Phebos were for some reason, heading towards Mars to take orbit around him, so the lonely son was left in the astroid belt till now waiting for another miracle to happen in order to go and join his brothers. So who is that son?
Jamie: You are really testing me...I don't know! I should have stayed awake in history!

[ Lealac/DanburyHS 10:51:38 ]
How do the applications of mathematical formulas on earth have to be manipulated to deal with data on Mars? (i.e. velocity, time,and distance)

[ Hockaday7thgradeMrA 10:52:33 ]
How do you know accurately what the martian surface is like? Do you simulate Martian surface conditions in your wind tunnels?

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 10:41:21 ]
Hi, I'm Katy Rogers!! Have you gotten any results from your wind experiments yet??

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:52:40 ]
Katy: ...Wind sensors....Yes we do...We are hoping to get Pathfinder back because now is the dust storm season! Yes! I want to understand dust storms!

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 10:53:16 ]
Hello my name is Marguerite. Do you support the theory of "the Big Bang" showing how the universe got started? And my class and I thank you very much for coming to talk to us!

[ Lucy 10:35:55 ]
Is NASA going to try to get the Pathfinder to respond so we can get more weather information?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:53:55 ]
Lucy-- we are working really hard at getting pathfinder back...we will not give up for at least another month, if ever...We really want the weather data, we have most of the data from the imager and rover, but the weather is always new!

[ Lucy 10:53:58 ]
We were wondering if you got our question. What instruments are being used on the Pathfinder to find wind information. Will we be able to get the info since Pathfinder is no longer communicating. Is the wind ever strong enough to knock over the Pathfinder or Sojourner?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:58:31 ]
Lucy- We have wind sensor and temperature sensors...We measure wind by looking at heat tranfer from heated wires... When we are not talking to pathfinder, we don't get any science data... :-( The winds are not very strong dynamically becasue of the thin problem for the rover or lander

[ CorryMiddleSchool 10:54:40 ]
Does Mars have sedimentary rocks?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:38:07 ]
Corry -- We think so...still a very debated topic... What do you think??? What is the evidence?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:59:38 ]
Corry: MS good question...We hope would show geologic processes are important...We have found none so far...but some may debate that.

[ CorryMiddleSchool 10:54:58 ]
What projects are you working on right now?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:55:13 ]
RE: [Lealac/DanburyHS] How do the applications of mathematical formulas on earth have to be manipulated to deal with data on Mars? (i.e. velocity, time,and distance)
Lealac: Time, distance are the same. The only real problem is gravity... which is 1/3 that of earth... But we know a lot about Mars' gravity so it is not that difficult...did i answer your question???

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 10:55:40 ]
Hi!!! My name is Christen L. Since we have hail storms on earth, would the hail freeze on Mars?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:00:14 ]
Christen: Everything freezes on mars...but interesting question.

[ Carl 10:55:45 ]
Is the data being gathered on the MGS's spectrometer going to be compared with data from pathfinder.

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:01:02 ]
Carl -- Yes! That is way we sent them at the same time... We would call this "ground truthing!" We want pathfinder back!!!!!

[ Lealac/DanburyHS - 81 - 10:56:29 ]
Yes, please describe the insrtuments used to measure wind.

[ Natasha 10:56:34 ]
Do you believe that there is life on Mars?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:43:18 ]
Natasha -- Sure, why not? Bacteria sure... green men, no way! Life may not be as rare as we might want to believe.

[ Lucy - 83 - 10:56:38 ]
We know you visited Lesotho, Africa. What did you do there and what is it like there?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:02:18 ]
Lucy -- Thanks for asking... I helped them develop irrigation systems for small farms and helped them conserve the soil... I loved it! They are wonderful friendly people... I miss them alot!

[ GregWilson/Geologist 10:56:40 ]
RE: [Hockaday7thgradeMrA] How do you know accurately what the martian surface is like? Do you simulate Martian surface conditions in your wind tunnels?
Hockaday: We simulate what is called surface roughness....It is pretty complicated but it causes the same amount of wind shear on the wind tunnel and what we think the wind shear is on Mars.

[ Lealac/DanburyHS - 85 - 10:58:09 ]
How does this mission compare with the Viking probe of Mars of earlier decades?

[ Lealac/DanburyHS10:59:30 ]
How does the erosion of the surface become affected by the gravitational difference on Mars?

[ Hockaday7thgradeKelliCaroline10:59:49 ]
Does Mars have large areas of sand dunes like Earth's deserts?

[ TylerfromEncinalSchool 10:59:53 ]
What will you do when you have finished studies on Mars and Venus?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:03:30 ]
Tyler-- I hope that everything I learn in the next couple of years gives me more questions to answer... We don't know everything about Earth, so I guess it will be a long time before we learn everything about Mars, Venus...etc :-)!!!

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP - 92 - 11:00:16 ]
Hi, Dr Wilson, I am Elizabeth. What do you do before the mission to prepare yourself?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:04:49 ]
Elizabeth-- You practice the mission over and over again in simulations...tests! We did 7 for Pathfinder, the the mission way referred to operational readyness test #8! and get a lot of sleep! :-)

[ CorryMiddleSchool 11:01:23 ]
Who got the original idea of the Mars Pathinder?

[ Hockaday7thgradeTess 11:01:55 ]
If Mars doesn't have linear sand dunes, what kind of sand dunes does it have, and what makes a linear dune linear??

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:06:35 ]
Tess -- The wind makes it linear... Mars has simple sand dunes called barcan dunes...crescent shaped... The wind blows the sand from one side to the other... Linear dunes require a more complex wind and the simple dunes.

[ CorryMiddleSchool 11:02:01 ]
Will we ever send a probe to Venus?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:07:14 ]
Corry-- We have sent many probes to Venus...the Russians have even landed...check it out!

[ MrSmith - 97 - 11:02:11 ]
What first interested you in the wind of other planets?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:10:41 ]
Mr. Smith -- The wind of our own planet and the fact that the wind is active on our planet, and Mars, Venus, and possibly Titan...

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 11:02:15 ]
Hello, I'm Susannah. I have seen some pictures on the internet that show Mars as being blue. Is this just picture distortion, or is Mars sometimes blue?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:11:47 ]
Susannah-- Mars is red... Must be distortion.

[ Carl 11:03:01 ]
Can they use the rover's arm to clean off the solar panel on the top?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:12:37 ]
Carl -- Good idea, but it would not work... We do not allow the rover too close to the lander because it has the potential to do more damage then help it.

[ Hockaday7thgradeBlake 11:03:46 ]
Hi. I am Blake. I was wondering, do you know what the fastest wind speed you have recorded from Mars is?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:13:32 ]
Blake-- I am just guessing now, because we have not reduce the data completely... but the dust devil winds are around 25-30 m/s or 40-55 miles per hour.

[ Lucy - 104 - 11:04:37 ]
What kind of wind tunnel experiments have you done in relation to Saturn's moon, Titan.

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:14:41 ]
Lucy -- None at the moment, but I want too! As we get closer to Saturn in the next couple of years I will get more motivated to look at it... The simulations will be closer to what Venus is like than Mars.

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 11:04:51 ]
Hello, my name is Elizabeth B. Dr. Wilson, I know you specialize in aeolian processes, but what are some other examples of what you do with wind studies?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:16:03 ]
Elizebeth B. -- We build and test sensors that will work on Mars... Dust is also an air-quality issue in this country, so I work on that was well. Did I answer your question???

[ MrSmith - 107 - 11:05:11 ]
How long until you send humans to Mars?

[ Hockaday7thgradeHILARY 11:05:59 ]
Is the wind on Mars created by the same forces as on Earth?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:16:45 ]
Hilary -- In general yes.... pressure difference and revolving motion of the Earth...

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 11:10:18 ]
It's 2540 you and your family live at Valles Marineris Colony you love astronomy and you keep watching Mars' two beautiful moons. In the summer you left with your soccer team for an expidition to the South Pole. One night after you fineshed your work you looked up in the sky, but you could see only one moon! Where did *____ go? What is the name of *____. *is the name of a moon ----Jamie

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:18:07 ]
hockaday/Mrs. P/Jamie -- Hmmmm....I will have to think about it... I know the moons move really quick... I want to know the answer so I can bug my Mars friends!!!! :-)

[ Carl 11:10:26 ]
Because there is almost no standing water on Mars is the dynamic generation of wind diffrent? i.e. no evaporation.

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:19:37 ]
Carl -- Good question.... Winds come mostly from pressure differences and the corealis forces... Water gives the Earth more complex patterns, but not that much different.

[ CorryMiddleSchool 11:10:40 ]
Did the pathfinder interfere with your personal life?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:20:32 ]
Corry -- Yes! I got 6 hrs sleep a day, worked some 40 days with out a day off. Forgot my girlfriend's bithday! But it was worth every minute!

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 11:11:16 ]
Hi!! It's Megha and Katy again. We're wondering, what is the instrument that you use to measure Mars' pressure, and how does that instrument do this? Thanks!

[ Lucy11:12:03 ]
As we were discussing what causes wind and decided our rotation movement is part of the cause we were wondering what causes a planet to rotate?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:21:33 ]
Lucy -- Good question... I think it is just the left over angular momentum from the orginal formation of the solar system... I am not sure....great question. Let me know if you find out soon! :-)

[ MrSmith 11:12:21 ]
1. How soon do you think we can live on Mars? 2. How did you feel when all your work payed off? 3. What resources are on Mars? 4. Are there going to be more probes sent to Mars? 5. Why didn't you make the pathfinder round so it could roll back over easier?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:22:39 ]
Mr. smith-- 30 years... that's just me! Lots... Every 2 years we are sending 2 probes..lander and orbitor, plus other countries like Japan are sending probes in the next couple of years!

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 11:14:07 ]
Hi, this is Katy again. I was wondering if you got any results to your experiments yet and what they were?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:44:10 ]
Katy -- Yes, we will be publishing them in "Science" next month and presentations at the meeting in San Franscico in December...stay tuned in!

[ Lealac/DanburyHS 11:15:11 ]
Thank you for giving us your time to hold this chat session. We, here at Danbury High School, are involved in an ongoing project following the Mar's mission. Is there an online source of physical data that we can access. Specifics, such as data measurement of use in kinetic or dynamics computations?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:23:56 ]
Lealac -- Hmmmm good question... All our data will be officially release through the Planetary Data System (PDS) starting in January...As for dynamic data, I don't the Jet Propulsion Laboratory!

[ Hockaday7thgrade 11:15:41 ]
We have to leave right now. Thank you so much!! We appreciated your answers and time!! Bye! -Hockaday 7th grade-6th period of Dallas Tx.

[ KeystonesOaksHS 11:17:08 ]
Hi my name is Erin O'Toole and I am from Keystone Oaks High School and I have a Question for you. What is the difference between the Viking camera satellite and MGS?

[ Lucy 11:18:24 ]
What made you want to go into studying wind and aeolian processes? And what was your reaction when asked to help with the Pathfinder mission?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:25:20 ]
Lucy -- In grad school a professor had some good but different ideas... I am kind of a rebel, so I worked with him on modeling aeolian process.... I was thrilled when I was selected!!! It was also a reason for taking this job after grad school.

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 11:18:30 ]
Hi. This is Mrs. P. of the Dallas school. My students had to go on to another class but I will stay on until the end. Will you have time to answer any of the back questions that haven't been answered after time is up? My students love to have me print up your responses to their questions to have in their notebooks. Thanks so much for being on line with us today.

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 11:21:20 ]
Well my student who asked you about the moons left the room. I don't think she knew the answer but I will ask her tomorrow. She is the one who had the question about the myth and who the son was.

[ MrSmith 11:21:23 ]
How many years does it take to do what you do?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:26:19 ]
Mr. Smith -- 10 years of school, Mars Pathfinder took 3 years... Our experiments take several years to get all the data needed to write a publication and solve a problem... Aeolian problem.

[ CorryMiddleSchool 11:22:30 ]
Why did we name Mars, Mars?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:26:57 ]
Corry -- Mars is the god of war... Other than that, I think we should call it "red" :-)

[ mike 11:24:12 ]
What are the major geological differences and composition between Earth and Mars rocks? How do they know when they found a rock meterorite from Mars in Antarctica?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:29:20 ]
Mike -- Mars and Earth formed from the same most major compounds are the same... What is different is the ratio of some isotopes... That ratio is a signature as to were stuff comes from... Mar m. have to exact isotope ratios as what we measured during the viking mission in the 70's and that ratio is different from the Earth's! Great question... Do some more study of this! :-0

[ CorryMiddleSchool 11:24:39 ]
How was your camping trip Doctor Wilson?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:29:59 ]
Corry -- It was great... I wish I had time to do it again this year! I am going to Death Valley tomorrow!

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP 11:25:28 ]
I like the way you have addressed those questions from students who have not worked with the material before attending a session like this. Looking up the information before hand saves a lot of time.

[ Lucy 11:25:32 ]
How many sand dunes have you discovered on Mars? And could the Sojourner ever get stuck in one of them? Have you named any of the sand dunes? We realize time is almost up. We want to thank you for givng us your time. We appreciated it.

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:30:55 ]
Lucy -- None... The rover did get slowed down by one during the mission, so it is a concern...

[ Lealac/DanburyHS11:27:07 ]
Has there been any seismic activity detected on Mars by your instruments?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:32:17 ]
Lealac -- Great question... No, but I think that our accelerometers are sensitive enough to pick up a tremor if it were to occur and we had them on... We don't turn them on because they use a lot of power. :-)

[ mikefromcranbrook 11:27:31 ]
How much has the wind eroded the surface of Mars?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:33:09 ]
Mike -- Good question... We see dunes and things, but very little abrasion of rocks... It is a mystery I hope to solve!

[ KeystonesOaksHS 11:27:55 ]
Hi I'm sorry but I must of missed your reply-- I asked what was the difference between the Viking satallite camera and the MGS?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:34:28 ]
Keystoneoaks -- MGS has two cameras...wide field and high resolution... MGS camera is 100 times better... mostly because of the technology developments in the last 20 years.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 11:28:23 ]

[ joe/coquille11:28:54 ]
What wind speed on earth is equivalent to 300 on Mars?

[ CorryMiddleSchool 11:29:17 ]
How old do you think Mars is?

[ CorryMiddleSchool 11:29:24 ]
What new discoveries has pathfinder come up with?

[ Lealac/DanburyHS 11:30:14 ]
That is great, Sandy. This is Charlie now, my class has left for the day. Great fun! Keep up the good work. Will be looking forward to more "chats". :-)

[ joe/coquille 11:30:39 ]
Scientific American has plans this month for making your own wind tunnel. Are there experiments we could do to simulate your work in studying sand transport that you could suggest?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:35:54 ]
Joe -- Yes. Visit: http://cmex
I am not sure the computer is online today...but send me an email and I will help:

[ CorryMiddleSchool 11:31:20 ]
We hope you have fun at Death Valley.

[ CorryMiddleSchool 11:32:18 ]
We want to thank you for this chat and we really enjoyed it. We have to go now.

[ MrSmith - 165 - 11:32:31 ]
Dr.Wilson, thankyou for your time, this webchat was great.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 11:34:20 ]
RE: [KeystonesOaksHS] Mr. Wilson, Keystone Oaks High school would like to know why you feel that you do not have to answer our questions. Stephanie Sommer head of outreach 108.

[ Hockaday6thperiodMrsP:36:42 ]
Politeness should be a matter of protocol on these chats. You must not realize how many questions have been asked. Patience is required and a big thank you to someone who is taking their time to interact with you.

[ Lucy 11:35:56 ]
On the personal side we were wondering what kind of car you drive, and what is your favorite music group? And since you like basketball what is your favorite team? We are typical middle school students who want to know more about YOU.

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:45:38 ]
Lucy -- 4x4 for desert trips... I like lots...Hansen! I am a big Laker fan... but the Magic days, not now much anymore.. Glad you are interested... I am not a nerd!

[ lee 11:40:44 ]
How does the sensor on Sojourner detect the type of rock?

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:47:01 ]
Lee -- Good question! It sends out x-rays, alpha particles, etc... and it measures what gets absorded and flexed. Each compound/element is differend in how it obsorbs and reflexs these particles.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 11:48:30 ]

[ GregWilson/Geologist 11:48:34 ]
Thanks for all the questions! I will be on time next time! Greg

[ lee 11:48:48 ]
Thankyou for answering these questions thoughtfully. Mike, Mark, Lee, Hunter, Nick, Tom and Danny.

[ Carl 11:49:21 ]
Thanks Greg!!!

[ joe/coquille 11:50:05 ]
Good questions everyone!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 12:42:45 ]
RE: [Carl] Sandy - you must have an interesting job! What was your major?
I have a FANTASTIC job! When I was in college I majored in Photojournalism. My degree was the major reason that I got hired to do some really cool jobs: a "mosaicist" for the Viking Orbiter Imaging Camera that went to Mars in the 1970s. As the photos came back from the two onboard cameras they were processed and then handed to me in very large 100-foot long rolls. It was my job to cut out each image and tape it to an ajoining image as all the photos fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. From there I took a job editing an employee publication for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and then a 40-page quarterly magazine for NASA Headquarters. Then I got my job here at NASA Ames Research Center, managing the Live From Mars project!