Live From Mars WebChat

Date: September 23, 1997

Featuring: Charles Whetsel
Spacecraft Systems Engineer
Mars Global Surveyor
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California


C'Anne, Sonora Elem: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 8:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hi, this is Ms Walter's class in Sonora California. We will have five students chatting with you: Jeff, Keith, C'Anne, Garin and Matt.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 8:43AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Good Morning Jeff, Keith, Garin, Matt and C'Anne! It's great that you can join us today. Looks like you're the first ones here! We won't be starting for another 15 minutes.

Mr. Thompson, Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 8:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Good morning!

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 8:48AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hello Mr. Thompson!

cindy at Hockaday: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 8:57AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hi. We are a seventh grade class of all girls and the students who will chat with you today are Lynne, Julia, Tina, Laura, and Shari.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 8:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Welcome Lynne, Julia, Tina, Laura, and Shari and the rest of your 7th grade class! Charles will be ready to chat in about 5 minutes. Have your questions ready!

Students and Tibor/Zrinyi Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 8:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hello Sandy. We are here.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 8:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Good Evening Tibor and students in Hungary! Very glad that you could join us! We will begin in just a few minutes...

Joe Sterrett/Coquille, OR: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 8:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT).
Coquille OR Earth Science class for the west coast sends greetings to all!

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:00AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hello Joe and the Coquille OR Earth Science class!

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
I've changed our name to represent the whole class. Various students will be asking questions.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:02AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
HELLO EVERYONE! Welcome to yet another Live From Mars WebChat. Our Mars expert today is Charles Whetsel from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Charles is the spacecraft systems engineer and is responsible for making sure that Mars Global Surveyor meets all of the scientific objectives that are planned for this mission.

Joe Sterrett/Coquille, OR: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:02AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you know how much more fuel was required to put MGS into a polar orbit as opposed to an equatorial orbit?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:04AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Joe, At earth, it takes more fuel to go into a polar orbit than an equatorial orbit, but during the transfer to Mars it is just as easy to aim for the pole as it to aim for the equator, so it didn't take any extra fuel.

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:04AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
As a guess,how many rocks have you studied?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
So far, Mars Surveyor (the orbiter) hasn't studied ANY rocks yet. We've just arrrived at Mars and will be working our way into the final mapping orbit over the next 4 months. I'm not sure how many rocks the Sojourner Rover and Pathfinder have studied.

cindy: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What are the main components of The MGS? Lynne

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Where is sojourner?

cindy: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How long do you think it will take before people can travel to mars? --Julia

Students: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Charles: Will we see the MPF in the photos made by MGS?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Students: The camera on MGS is "almost" good enough to see the Pathfinder lander from orbit. We can see things as small as 1-2 meters across, so we can probably see Pathfinder, or maybe it's parachute, or it's backshell.

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Is there life on Mars?

Colleen and Paul, PAhomeschooler: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:08AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hi, we've just logged in. We will read other questions first and then ask one of our own.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Welcome Colleen and Paul! Glad you could join us today :-)

Megan/Denver: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:08AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Charles: I read in a press release last week that MGS has started its "aerobraking" phase. Can you explain what this is and why it is so special?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Megan/Denver: We use "aerobraking" to circularize or orbit so that we can take "close-up" pictures. The orbit that we are in now would only allow us to take close-ups for a short period of time each day, whereas once we circularize, we will be able to take great pictures all of the time. During aerobraking we "dip-down" into the Martian atmospher for a short part of each orbit, and this helps slow us down into the orbit we want to end up in (by January).

cindy: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:08AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Is the shape of the spacecraft determined by the mission and its goals?--Lauren G.

C'Anne, Sonora Elem: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:08AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What happened to the Mars Observer spacecraft?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
On Mars Observer, we think that there was a condition that allowed fuel to build up somewhere it shouldn't have during the 11-month trip to Mars. When the time came to use the propulsion system to arrive at Mars, we think that the fuel buil-up caused it to explode. We have made it past where Mars Observer was lost with MGS, but we still have our 4-month aerobraking ahead of us before we start our mapping mission.

Tim McCollum/Charleston Middle School: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Good Morning Sandy & Charles - Charleston Middle School signing on.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hi Tim and Charleston Middle School!

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Is it hot on Mars?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Core 3/Holmen Middle School: In general, it is much colder on Mars than it is on earth. Mars is a desert, but it is a desert because it is dry, not because it is hot. There are some (but not many) cold deserts on earth.

cindy: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
WOuld it be better to send a mission to mars when the planets are aligned?--Shari

C'Anne,: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What will Mars Global Surveyor do?

cindy: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Is the global surveryor controlled by a steering wheel on earth?, also, does a human being control the steering wheel? --Tina.

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Tina: We have a team of people who control MGS by sending it "programs" of things to do every day. It's not exactly a steering wheel, but it's close!

Colleen and Paul, PAhomeschooler: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How long does it take for pictures to get to earth from the MGS? And is this your favorite project you have worked on so far in your career?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Colleen & Paul: It takes about 14-20 minutes for the pictures sent by MGS to return to earth, but we only send them once per day (They are stored onboard until then). So far, this is the most exciting project that I have worked on.

David/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What type of orbit will the surveyor take?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
David/CMS: MGS will end up in a two-hour polar orbit and will send back global picutres of Mars each day. Being in a global orbit, we can simply wait for the planet to rotate under us and send back pictures that are shaped like "orange slices."

Chris/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How long will Mars Global Surveyer send pictures of Mars?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Chris: MGS should send pictures back for two earth years (which is one Mars years). After that, we will use MGS to relay pictures back from Pathfinder's successor, the Mars Surveyor '98 lander.

David/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What were the problems with the Mars Observer?

Balint, Zrinyi (High), Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hello everybody! :)

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hello Balint! Welcome to today's Mars WebChat!

cindy: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you think that the human race will ever be able to thrive on Mars?- Valentina

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Valentina: I hope that some day we will be able to send people to Mars. If they are to live there, they will either have to live in bubbles and wear spacesuits when they are outside, or else we will have to find some way to make the atmosphere thicker.

Elizabeth/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How long did it take for Mars Global Serveyor to reach Mars, and how fast was it traveling ?

Daniel/Zrynyi/middle/Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hello Sandy & Charles! We're happy to chat you again! :)

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Hello Daniel! We're happy to have you back again!

Sagar/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What will the Mars Global Surveyor EXACTLY do in space?

Chris/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Is there any chance Mars Observer is still orbiting Mars, and could it collide with Mars Global Surveyer ?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Chris: It is most likely that Mars Observer went zipping past Mars when it's propulsion system was lost. Space is a VERY big place and the chances of running into anything are pretty small.

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
how big is mars

Bryant/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you think there is life on Mars?

Balint, Zrinyi (High), Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Charles: How would you make the future aircraft to return from Mars?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Balint, Zrinyi (High), Hungary: Within the next ten years, we are hoping to be able to launch robots to Mars (more rovers) which will be able to collect the most interesting rocks and load them onto a small rocket thatwe will land there. This rocket will then launch the interesting rocks back to earth where we can study them in the laboratory. The Martian atmosphere is probably too thin to support a traditional "airplane."

cindy: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What are some of the discoveries you've made from the MGS? --Jennifer H.

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Jennifer H: (Sorry it took me so long to get to your question) So far, the biggest discovery from MGS is that of the martian magnetic field. The realy scientific discoveries will start after we finish aerobraking in January.

C'Anne,: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:18AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you have a full map of the surface of mars?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
C'Anne: We do have maps of the entire surface of Mars, but they do not have as much detail as we will need if we want to be able to land there more precisely with other robots or human landers. That is why we need the high-resolution images from Mars Surveyor.

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
When will people live on Mars?

Katie/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you like your job?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Katy: I like my job a lot - It is very interesting and there are new problems to try to figure out each day (I like doing different things all the time).

C'Anne,: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Will they study the moons of mars?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:33AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
C'Anne: We don't really plan to study the two moons of Mars with MGS. It was designed to take very good pictures of the surface of Mars, but it is difficult to point it at anything else (it is very "specialized").

Chelsie/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How many years of college did you have to take?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Chelsie: I spent 4 years as an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) studying both aerospace engineering and planetary science. I then got a Masters degree in aerospace engineering at Stanford University.

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What is the gravation on mars?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Core 3/Holmen: The gravity on Mars is about 2/5ths of what it is on earth. If you weighed 100 pounds on earth, you would weigh 40 lbs. on Mars.

Amanda/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How much power do the Cameras on the surveior take to work

Daniel/Zrínyi/middle/Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How long will the MGS-project last?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:37AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Daniel: MGS will take picutres for 2 earth years (one Mars year) and then relay picutres from Pathfidner's successor, the Mars Surveyor '98 Lander.

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT)BR> What color is Mars?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:38AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Core 3/ Holmen: Mars is RED!! It's often called the Red Planet.

Kara/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How many years have you been doing this?

Students: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Have they found river beds on the surface of the Mars?

Whitney/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you think people will actually live on Mars one day.

Emily/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What is the smallest size of an object that you can take a picture of and get data back from?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:38AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Emily: Each "pixel" in an MGS picture is aobut 1.4 meters across, so we can see things the size of small cars (If there were cars on Mars!!)

Daniel/Zrínyi/middle/Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What's the size of the area, the MGS can "see" at once?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:57AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Daniel: We can see all of Mars each day in our "low resolution" pictures, but we can also take high resolution pictures that are 2.8 km wide and 10 or so km long.

Core 3/Holmen Middle School, Holmen, WI: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Are the canyons on Mars, the result of water?

C'Anne,: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Where could we find a full map of mars?

Colleen and Paul, PAhomeschooler: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
C'Anne, We have a book title "The NASA Atlas of the Solar System" by Ronald Greeley and Ramond Batson, it is published by Cambridge Univ. Press. It has excellent maps of the survice of mars and pictures taking by the Viking and others.

C'Anne,: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Where can we get a copy of that atlas? Colleen and Paul, PAhomeschooler: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
C'Anne, Our atlas was a gift from our uncle. But it was purchased at a book store in Minnesota. With the Authors name and publisher, you could check at your local bookstore. Good luck.

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
C'Anne: I think that Maps of Mars can be obtained from the US Geological Survey. There web site is at button

Cara/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Where did you go to school in Boston?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:40AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Cara: I went to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Kristy/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How has your job affected your family? Are they as interested in the mission as you are?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Kristy: My family is VERY interested in this Mission. My parents are always calling any time they read something in the paper and my sister is always logged in to our web page!!

Daniel/Zrínyi/middle/Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Would you like to make a trip to the Mars?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Daniel: I'd LOVE to make a trip to Mars (but it would mean being away from my family for more than 2 years, so that's tough!)

Sara/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Will we ever get to live on Mars

Balint, Zrinyi (High), Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Charles: What do you think of the "Mars Face" and the "Mars Piramids"?

Courtney/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How will the information sent to us from the Mars Global Surveyor affect future space research projects?

Heather/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you know when people will find the answer if something is out there?

C'Anne,: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you think we will get to live on Mars in Your life time?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:43AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
C'Anne: I'm not sure whether we will have permanent bases on Mars during my lifetime, but I think that we may visit Mars in my lifetime.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
EVERYONE: PLEASE DON'T SEND ANYMORE QUESTIONS FOR 5 MINUTES SO THAT CHARLES CAN GET CAUGHT UP! thank you :-)

Seth/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:29AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you think we will ever get astronauts on Mars in your lifetime?

Chris/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:29AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What instruments are on Mars Global Surveyer?

Sagar/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How much does the entire mission cost?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:43AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Sagar: This mission cost less than $150M (US). We had been allocated more than that, but we ended giving back almost $8M.

Bryant/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What do you plan to do with the map of Mars?

cindy: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How long do you think it will take before people can travel to Mars? Julia

David/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT)BR> What did you change on the surveyor to avoid the problems encountered on the Mars Observer?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
David: On Surveyor, we changed both the propulsion "plumbing" and the thermal control to keep the fuel and oxidizer from mixing before we got to Mars. We changed to plumbing to add more valves and we changed the thermal design so that even if the valves didn't work, the fuel condense back into the tank it came from.

cindy: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Is the shape of the spacecraft determined by the mission and its goals? Lauren G.

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Lauren: Yes, the spacecraft shape is strongly determined by it's mission and goals. The two biggest drivers for the MGS shape was 1) Fitting inside the nosecone of the rocket that launched us and 2) Getting an aerodynamic shape for aerobraking.

Sagar/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What kinds of instruments do they put on the surveyor?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:53AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Sagar: There is a lot of information about the different instrument on MGS (Yes, There's a lot MORE than just cameras!!) on our web site at button (This site has info about MGS, Pathfinder, and the Mars Surveyor '98 Missions).

Bryant/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Do you think that humans will ever be able to live on Mars?

Chris/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How big is Mars Global Surveyer?

Students: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Have you found any clues of the life in the rocks or in the soil of the Mars?

Colleen and Paul, PAhomeschooler: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:38AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
How is the MGS designed different from the last one?

Core: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What have been the highest recorded wind on the surface of mars so far?

Students/Zrinyi Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Will the upper conjunction of the Mars disturb the connection with the Eart? charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:49AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Students/Hungary: Yes, next March we will have to stop Mapping for a few weeks when Mars (and MGS) pass behind the Sun as seen from the earth ("Conjunction").

C'Anne,: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Thank you. We have to leave now.

Daniel/Zrínyi/middle/Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What projects are you planning to start in the near future?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:50AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Daniel: We are already busy working on the Orbiter and Lander (to succeed MGS and Pathfinder) which we will launch to Mars during the 1998 launch opportunity. The best times to launch to Mars occur only once every 25 months.

Joe Sterrett/Coquille, OR: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
When pictures are taken will MGS always face Mars or will it always point in the same direction relative to space?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:51AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Joe/Oregon: MGS is always pointed straight at the center of Mars and it always takes a picture of whatever is directly underneath it. It sends these picutre back one line at a time (like a fax machine). By placing MGS in a polar orbit, eventually, the entire planet will pass underneath our camera.

Students/Zrinyi: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:52AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Have you found any river bed on the surface of the Mars? The MGS has taken a photo of the surface, but we could not find it on the Internet. Where is it?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:55AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Students/Hungary: [See my previous reference to the MGS web site] There are many (dry) riverbeds on Mars which can be seen in the Viking picutres of Mars from the 70s. The picutres taken of Mars from MGS so far are not good enough to see riverbeds. After February, the best MGS pictures will show lots of riverbeds.

Daniel/Zrínyi/middle/Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:55AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
What kind of instruments will this Lander, launched next year, bring to the Mars?

Joe Sterrett/Coquille, OR: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:56AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
It sounds like MGS may last much longer than the 2-year mapping mission. What are the outer limits of life you can reasonably expect from MGS?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Joe/Oregon: It is very hard to estimate how long a spacecraft will live for. There is usually a spare piece of equipment for every critical component. We would be excited if MGS lasted 4-5 years, but the Voyager spacecraft just celebrated their 20th birthdays!!

Colleen and Paul, PAhomeschooler: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
We'll ask our question again in case you missed it. How was the MGS designed different from the last surveyer? And will the MSG communicate with the Pathfinder?

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:05AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Collen & Paul: MGS and Pathfinder were not designed to communicate with each other (they both communicate directly with earth). The lander which will be sent in 1998, however, will be designed to communicate with MGS and because of this, it will be able to send back many more pictures than Pathfinder.

Core: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
we have to go, thanks.

Donna/SMC: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 9:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
I asked the questions about Cydonia.

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Donna: Some people think that they can see pyramids or faces in the pictures that Viking returned of the Cydonia region on Mars. When they are viewed from different lighting angles, they look very different. MGS will have a chance to take high resolution pictures of these sites at consistent lighting angles to (hopefully) clear up this controversy.

Balint, Zrinyi (High), Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:02AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Bye-Bye! See you next time! We enjoyed it a lot. :-)

Donna/SMC: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:02AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Donna/SMC, Could I possibly have a reply to that question at my e-mail address?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Sorry Donna. Via chat is the best we can do. Lots of folks ask for private email messages and there is just no way we have the time to reply to those individually.

Daniel/Zrínyi/middle/Hungary: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Bye-bye! We were glad to be able to chat with You. Thanks a lot! (: [-----I'm left handed.

Donna/SMC: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Donna?SMC, thank you. I look forward to all the findings.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:04AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
GOOD BYE EVERYONE! Thank you very much for all of your great questions! You kept Charles very busy!

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:05AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
And a very special thank you to Charles for taking the time to chat with us today. Your answers were extremely informative! We hope you can come back again soon! Good Luck!

Tim McCollum/CMS: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Sandy & Charles - Thanks so much for your time and your answers. Charleston Middle School signing off. See you next time :)

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Goodye Tim and Charleston Middle School! Thank you for joining us today! Hope we got some of your questions answered!

charles@nasa: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Everyone: Thanks for all of the interesting questions. I wish I could stay here all day and answer questions, but somebody's got to fly the spacecraft (and that's me!!!)! Stay tuned for more big discoveries from Mars Global Surveyor and you can follow our progress on the World Wide Web at button !

Colleen and Paul, PAhomeschooler: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Thank you Mr. Whetsel and Sandy, we enjoyed it! See you next time!

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Sep 23, 10:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT)
Bye Colleen and Paul! Thanks for joining us today. Check the Live From Mars Web site later this week for a schedule of upcoming chats-- button


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