Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.
Each NASA mission has its own statement of Goals. These may be science objectives: Determine the composition of Martian soil. Or they may be engineering goals: Develop a cheaper way to deliver payloads to Mars orbit. These goals may come with other requirements: Complete the mission before the end of this decade. But once the goals are set, it takes teams of people to carry them out. Here are some examples of careers required
Mission Planners compare different strategies for meeting goals and analyze the costs and benefits of each approach. One approach may be faster and cheaper-but more risky! Another may be very reliable but much more expensive. Yet another may be cheap and safe but take too long. Once a basic strategy has been chosen (such as the innovative new MGS aerobraking maneuver) more detailed planning begins. This includes schedules for design, construction, launch and operation of the spacecraft; detailed planning for the package of science instruments; discussions about the inevitable trade-offs between competing requirements. What will be required to make the best use of each instrument? What are the most important observations? The most difficult? How will information be returned to Earth and analyzed? Every aspect of the mission must be studied, understood and incorporated in a Mission Plan.
The Science Team
Engineering Teams |
These teams will be concerned with how much power each instrument needs, and how much it weighs. Is the device sensitive to heat or cold? Will radiation affect the measurements? How precisely will the device need to be aimed? Does its operation affect other spacecraft systems? What if some component fails? Can there be a backup or alternative procedure?
The Navigation Team
Only when all the spacecraft systems and ground systems are working properly can mission goals be met. The payoff is new data for scientists around the world to analyze, a process that may take years after the spacecraft finishes its part of the mission. And by then new missions are already on the drawing boards.
projection device (optional)
Read aloud an excerpt of the most current Field Journal you have been able to find on-line ("Why, just yesterday Rob Manning wrote...") or one of the existing excerpts found on page 57 of this Guide. Review with students the position this individual holds on the Mars Mission Team.
Mars Mission Logbook Entry: Ask students "What position on the Mars Mission Team interests you most? What qualities (of skills, or personality) do you think would be most important in a person applying for this position?"
Go on-line, and identify the various mission members who have volunteered to write Field Journals or answer student questions. Print out and add to Logbook some of the comments you find most interesting.
Compare the Viking mission to Mars Pathfinder and/or Mars Global Surveyor in terms of planning time, site, duration and cost.
Read on-line Field Journals
Language Arts: Write a formal application for a specific position at NASA or JPL. Include your educational background and state clearly your qualifications ("personal and professional") for the position.
Research and compare cost for the Viking Missions with the proposed budgets for Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor.