Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.

UPDATE # 49 - August 8, 1997

PART 1: Register Now for Last Two August Chat
PART 2: Pathfinder Press Conference Archive Online
PART 3: Gearing up for New School Year
PART 4: Quest Public Service Announcement to Air
PART 5: Pathfinder Mission Status
PART 6: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it!


Monday, August 18, 10 a.m., Pacific Daylight, Mike Mellon
Mike is a planetary geologist. His work focuses primarily on studying
martian geology and climate, including, as a central link between these
two, water. In his work, Mike investigates where water on Mars could be
located and what geologic evidence can tell us about the planetwide
distribution of water. Mike also studies how water is related to the
martian climate and how the climate changes over time. Be sure to read
Mike's bio before his chat at:

Monday, August 25, 10 a.m., Pacific Daylight, Bridget Landry
Bridget is the deputy uplink systems engineer for Mars Pathfinder. What
this really means is that she teaches the computers on the ground to speak
the same language as the spacecraft. She has taken a very complex, but
general computer program and made it understand all the commands that
Pathfinder knows. To find out more about Bridget and her interesting life,
be sure to read her bio and journals at:

To participate in the WebChats, RSVP at least 24 hours in advance to
reserve a space for yourself. Send RSVP to: You
will receive confirmation of your registration and a password to enter the
chat room. If the chat rooms are full by the time you register, you can
still participate by watching the chat from the Observe Room at:


Would you like to know when the next Mars Pathfinder press conference is
scheduled? Are you interested in viewing past press conferences? Look no
further! Your online source for Pathfinder press conference information

To view the conferences you will need RealPlayer or RealAudio installed on
your computer. RealPlayer is available free of charge from Progressive
Networks at:

The next Pathfinder press conference is scheduled for August 27 at 10
a.m., Pacific Daylight Time.


Live From Mars will continue until December 1997; after that we expect the
project to change names and continue with a focus on Mars and its ongoing

Shuttle Team Online will continue with a new International Space Station
component. This project will be available throughout the school year.

Women of NASA provides an opportunity to meet some of NASA's women via
scheduled live WebChats. Also available is an archive of biographies of
NASA's diverse scientific and technical women, and online and offline
resources for teachers who are trying to deal with the issue of gender
equity in their teaching. This project is designed to encourage female
involvement in math and science careers via role models within NASA. Women
of NASA will be available throughout the '97-'98 school year (October 97
to May 98). To register for project updates and receive the schedule for
WebChats, send email to:
In the message body, write only these words:
   subscribe updates-won
More info is on the web at

NeurOn is a new project that will be available during most of the school
year (exact dates to be determined). This project will focus on the
NeuroLab space shuttle mission that will study the brain. NeurOn will
include a television component airing on PBS stations in 40 states.

Aero Design Team Online will be about NASA's aeronautics program. We hope
the project will include a television component. This project is currently
planned for the fall only.

Additional details will be provided TO this mail list later or on the Web


A NASA Quest Public Service Announcement (PSA) has been created for
distribution to TV stations around the country. The narrative and selected
pictures from this 30-second video are available for viewing at If you have the capability to use
RealPlayer Plus 4.0, you can view the entire contents of the PSA.

You are encouraged to contact your local TV networks and inquire about
interest in airing the PSA. Suggestions on what to say to a network media
person are also included in the above URL.

Videotapes have already been sent to TV stations in New York,
Pennsylvania, North Dakota and California.


Mars Pathfinder Results Generating New Picture of Mars as Mission Moves
Into Extended Operations

[Editor's note: This status report was prepared by the Office of the
Flight Operations Manager, Mars Pathfinder Project, NASA Jet Propulsion

August 8, 1997

NASA's Mars Pathfinder spacecraft -- a novel mission to send an
inexpensive lander and roving prospector to the surface of Mars - has
concluded its primary mission, fulfilling all of its objectives and
returning a wealth of new information about the red planet.

The robotic lander, which continues to explore an ancient outflow channel
in Mars' northern hemisphere, completed its milestone 30-day mission Aug.
3, capturing far more data on the atmosphere, weather and geology of Mars
than scientists expected. In all, Pathfinder returned 1.2 gigabits (1.2
billion bits) of data and 9669 tantalizing pictures of the Martian

The mission has been followed with great interest via the World Wide Web.
Twenty Pathfinder mirror sites, constructed by JPL Web engineer Kirk
Goodall and managed by Pathfinder Webmaster David Dubov, recorded
565,902,373 hits worldwide during the period of July 1 - August 4. The
highest volume of hits in one day occurred on July 8, when a record 47
million hits were logged, which is more than twice the volume of hits
received on any one day during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

"The data returned by the Sagan Memorial Station and Sojourner has been
nothing short of spectacular, and it will help provide a scientific basis
for future Mars missions, including a sample return, for years to come,"
said Dr. Wesley Huntress, NASA associate administrator for space science.
"The Pathfinder team's 'can do' attitude not only was critical to
overcoming several complex technical challenges during development and
cruise, but has carried through the uncharted territory of operating a
solar-powered lander and mobile rover on the surface of a planet millions
of miles from Earth."

"This mission demonstrated a reliable and low-cost system for placing
science payloads on the surface of Mars," said Brian Muirhead, Mars
Pathfinder project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We've
validated NASA's commitment to low-cost planetary exploration, shown the
usefulness of sending microrovers to explore Mars, and obtained
significant science data to help understand the structure and meteorology
of the Martian atmosphere, and to understand the composition of the
Martian rocks and soil."

A new portrait of the Martian environment has begun to emerge in the 30
days since Pathfinder and its small, 10.5-kilogram (23-pound) rover began
to record weather patterns, atmospheric opacity and the chemical
composition of rocks washed down into the Ares Vallis flood plain. The
rover's alpha proton X-ray spectrometer, led by Principal Investigator Dr.
Rudolph Rieder, was responsible for making the first in-situ measurements
of rocks near the landing site.

"We are seeing much more differentiation of volcanics than we expected to
see," said Dr. Matthew Golombek, Mars Pathfinder project scientist at JPL.
"The high silica content of one of the rocks we've measured suggests that
there was more crustal activity - heating and recycling of materials --
early in Mars' history than we thought."

Similarly, atmospheric-surface interactions, measured by a meteorology
package onboard the lander, are confirming some conditions observed by the
Viking landers 21 years ago, while raising questions about other aspects
of the planet's global system of transporting volatiles such as water
vapor, clouds and dust, said Science Team Leader Dr. Timothy Schofield.
The meteorology mast on the lander has observed a rapid drop-off in
temperatures just a few feet above the surface, and one detailed 24-hour
measurement set revealed temperature fluctuations of 30-40 degrees
Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes.

In addition, sweeping, color panoramas of the Martian landscape, created
by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) team and Principal Investigator
Peter Smith, are revealing clear evidence that the surface of Mars has
been altered by winds and flowing water.

The rover's performance has easily surpassed its designers' minimum
expectations. Engineers designed the roving vehicle's electronics, battery
power and hazard avoidance features to see it through at least a week of
safe roving, not knowing beforehand what conditions it might encounter on
Mars. After 30 days, the rover is still healthy and has clocked 52 meters
(171 feet) distance, circumnavigated the lander and taken 384 spectacular
views of rocks and the lander.

"Sojourner's capabilities to detect hazards and then act on its own to
overcome those hazards has been remarkable," said Dr. Jacob Matijevic,
Sojourner project manager. "The technology experiments we have been able
to perform with the rover's wheels have given us  composition of the
Martian soil, as well as rocks around the landing site. Sojourner's
durability in this frigid, hostile environment is also showing us that we
are on the right track to building smarter, even more durable rovers for
future missions."

Pathfinder's primary objective was to demonstrate a low-cost way of
delivering an instrumented lander and free-ranging rover to the surface of
the red planet. Landers and rovers of the future will share the heritage
of spacecraft designs and technologies tested in this "pathfinding"

Part of NASA's Discovery program of low-cost planetary missions with
highly focused science goals, the spacecraft used an innovative method of
directly entering the Martian atmosphere. Assisted by an 11-meter
(36-foot) diameter parachute, the spacecraft descended to the surface of
Mars and landed, using airbags to cushion the impact.

This novel method of diving into the Martian atmosphere worked like a
charm. "Every event during the entry, descent and landing (EDL) went
almost perfectly," said Richard Cook, Pathfinder mission manager. "The
sequences were executed right on time and well within our margins."

Pathfinder landed right on the money, within 20 kilometers (13 miles) of
the targeted landing site. The landing site coordinates in Ares Vallis
were later identified as 19.33 degrees north latitude, 33.55 degrees west
longitude. The spacecraft's terminal velocity as it parachuted to the
ground was higher than expected, said Rob Manning, Pathfinder flight
system chief engineer. "Interestingly, we estimated our descent on the
parachute at about 60 meters per second (134 miles per hour). Software
controlling the retro rockets recorded Pathfinder's speed at about 61.5
meters per second (140 miles per hour) at the time the RAD
(rocket-assisted deceleration) rockets fired."

Pathfinder's performance in the Martian atmosphere will be of great value
to Mars Global Surveyor, which will aerobrake through the Martian
atmosphere to circularize its orbit when it reaches Mars on Sept. 11. The
Pathfinder navigation team, led by Peter Kallemyn of JPL, estimated
horizontal wind velocities in the upper atmosphere, which accelerated the
spacecraft's descent velocity by about 13 meters per second (20 to 25
miles per hour).

After being suspended from a 20-meter (65-foot) bridle and firing its
retro rockets, a 5.8-meter (19-foot) diameter cluster of airbags softened
Pathfinder's landing, marking the first time this airbag technique has
been used. The spacecraft hit the ground at a speed of about 18 meters per
second (40 miles per hour) and bounced about 16 times across the landscape
before coming to a halt. The airbag seems to have performed perfectly and
sustained little or no damage. To top it off, the spacecraft even landed
on its base petal, consequently allowing its thumb-sized antenna to
communicate the successful landing to a jubilant team on Earth only three
minutes after touch down.

Science data from the surface of Mars will continue to be collected and
transmitted to Earth, then analyzed by scientists, as Pathfinder enters
its extended mission. The lander was placed in a two-day hibernation
period to recharge its battery after the conclusion of the primary
mission, and the flight team will begin to power the lander battery off
each Martian night now to conserve energy. The rover's batteries remain in
good condition, but are not rechargeable.

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