Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.

Teachers' Guide

Passport to Knowledge
electronic field trips to scientific frontiers
via interactive television and on-line networks
made possible, in part, by
NASA, the National Science Foundation, and public television

Dear Educator,
Get ready for the trip of a lifetime. The adventure begins at Cape Canaveral in the final months of 1996. Then eight months later, on July 4, 1997, an alien object will streak through Mars' dark sky, glowing bright as its heat shield encounters the planet's thin atmosphere. Decelerating with a parachute and small retro-rockets, the spacecraft will slow, and then a new type of airbag will deploy. It'll touch down, bounce as high as a ten story building, and tumble over rocks and boulders. After this bumpy landing, the airbags deflate, 3 petals unfold, and Mars Pathfinder will awaken on the Red Planet.

Within hours, the first new images from the Martian surface in over 20 years will be radioed back to Earth. A few more hours, and a micro-rover, Sojourner, will roll away from the lander to begin its mission-to sample rocks and analyze the Martian soil in ways never before done. All this for $150 million, the price of a few modestly-budgeted science fiction movies! Two months later, Mars Global Surveyor arrives. It then begins a complex series of maneuvers, using Mars' atmosphere to lower itself gradually into a mapping orbit. Like many aspects of Pathfinder, this aero-braking maneuver has also never before been done. Pathfinder and Surveyor are part of a new NASA design philosophy and exploration strategy: build more, smaller, cheaper spacecraft and launch them more frequently-Mars missions every two years!

Live from Mars, the electronic field trip that will follow these spacecraft, is also unique, innovative-and somewhat risky. But just as for NASA's new Mars missions, the upside should be unusually rewarding.

  • Your students will be exposed to science and data more current than that found in any textbook.

  • They'll go behind the scenes at Cape Canaveral and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, sites which are humanity's literal and metaphorical launch-pads to the Universe.

  • They'll be exposed to high-tech careers that may open up new academic and personal pathways.

  • They'll have a chance to use the Internet to communicate with some of the world's foremost researchers, and also to collect and share data with fellow-students.

    This Guide provides the key to unlock this rare opportunity. It's designed to provide an easy-to-use route through the rich multimedia materials which every Passport to Knowledge project offers. This is an interactive experience; you'll also find many ways suggested here through which to communicate back to Live from Mars. We hope you and your students learn a lot... and also have great fun. Remember, something you say in class, or that a student may read on-line, or see during the videos, just may be the vehicle which will, in the future, launch that youngster to the Red Planet-not on an electronic field trip, but in reality.

    So, Onwards and Upwards, to Mars!


    Erna Akuginow Geoffrey Haines-Stiles
    Executive Producer Project Director