Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.

UPDATE # 53 - September 19, 1997

PART 1: Weather Worlds: Two New Activities to Start Now!
PART 2: Sign up for "America Goes Back to School" WebChat
PART 3: Charles Whetsel Chat Full--Observe Room Open
PART 4: Two New LFM Broadcasts Coming Your Way
PART 5: Mars Global Surveyor Flight Status
PART 6: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it!


Two new exciting projects are awaiting you and your students in Weather
Worlds. Designed for a wide range of classrooms at varying levels of
sophistication and with varying amounts of time for participation, Weather
Worlds offers a challenge--students must decide what key weather
measurements they think are most important to gather here on Earth, and
then how to obtain them, by designing, building and/or acquiring
instruments to collect these data.

As part of this process, students will also have to figure out protocols
or procedures about how and when to gather data. For example, is it enough
to gather temperatures just at noon? Do you also need night-time lows? If
you want maximum and minimum temperatures, how should you go about
securing these? As another example: Pathfinder's temperature sensors are
set at three different heights above the Martian surface. Would such
measurements be relevant on Earth?

Students are not limited to instruments paralleling those on Pathfinder;
they are encouraged to start from scratch and come up with their best
ideas. Temperature, wind, pressure, humidity, hours of daylight, cloud
cover-- these are all areas that students might consider.

The idea behind Weather Worlds is to give students the feel of real world
science. Not only will they be gathering data in ways parallel to what
Pathfinder is doing on Mars, they'll also be using the Internet to debate
plans with their peers, something that NASA scientists also have to do.

A detailed summary of the tasks and a timeline can be found at:


During the week of September 29 - October 3, join in a series of WebChats
with NASA scientists and engineers as they talk about their exciting jobs
and careers. Chat with some of the folks who work at NASA: an
astrophycist, a research engineer who specializes in space walks,
engineers who manage the Pathfinder spacecraft on Mars, astronauts who fly
in the shuttle, people who build out-of-this-world aircraft and scientists
who study our changing planet and how we contribute to the changes.

To view the online biographies of the scientists and engineers, to see the
chat schedule and to register for a chat go to:


The September 23 chat with Charles Whetsel filled up almost immediately.
Thank you to everyone for your quick responses! Your passwords are "in the
mail"! For those of you still interested in participating, please join us
in the Observe Room, which can be found at:
All you have to do is click on "To observe the chat..." No RSVP or
password are needed.


Live From Mars continues to track NASA's two current missions to Mars,
allowing students, for the first time ever, to follow planetary spacecraft
from prelaunch through landing. LFM includes two new upcoming broadcasts.

"Destination Mars"
Tuesday, October 30, 1997
1 p.m. Eastern

This program reprises highlights of the programs presented during the
1996-97 school year and provides an update on the highly successful July
4, 1997, landing of Mars Pathfinder on the Red Planet, and the first
months spent on Mars by the micro-rover, Sojourner, (named by a
high-school student for 19th century abolitionist Sojourner Truth). For
new teachers and students "Destination Mars" provides a comprehensive
introduction to Mars and why we study it, the character and purposes of
NASA's two missions, and behind-the-scenes vignettes of the men and women
who fly the missions. NASA's second Mars spacecraft, Global Surveyor, an
orbiter rather than a lander, arrived successfully at the Red Planet on
September 11, 1997, and the program will showcase some of the earliest
images and data returned.

"Today on Mars"
Tuesday, November 13, 1997
1 p.m. Eastern

With the very latest images and the first analyses of scientific data from
Mars Global Surveyor, and more "ground truth" from the Pathfinder lander,
this program provides a kind of weathercast from the alien planet that in
many ways is most like Earth. The daily cycle of ice, frosts, clouds, and
dust storms will be followed through computer-enhanced images from the
lander, and compared and contrasted to Earth. The program will also
feature results from the WEATHER WORLDS online collaborative activity in
which students will gather local weather data and report it online, to
compare and contrast their findings with NASA's results from Mars! Also
featured will be hands-on activities that simulate the work of instruments
on NASA's spacecraft, and interaction between students and the researchers
who operate the actual "tools."

Through Sojourner's robot eyes we'll see virtual reality sequences that
track the first-ever rover on Mars as it travels around the planet.
Real-time interactions allow students to question NASA's scientists about
the latest findings and to hear about the future of interplanetary

Broadcast details will be announced here in the next few weeks.


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

Thursday, 18 September 1997

At 8:03 a.m. PDT this morning, the flight team commanded Surveyor's tiny
rocket thrusters to fire for 20 seconds. This burn occurred at the high
point of the spacecraft's fourth orbit around Mars and slowed Surveyor by
1.79 m.p.h. (0.799 meters per second).

The maneuver lowered the low point of Surveyor's orbit from its current
value of 93 miles (150 km) down to 79.5 miles (128 km). The spacecraft is
currently falling back toward Mars and will reach this new low point
Friday morning at 6:29 a.m. PDT. At that time, Surveyor will make its
second aerobraking pass by skimming through the upper part of the Martian

Surveyor's atmospheric scientists expect the spacecraft to encounter
slightly more air resistance on Friday than during the first atmospheric
pass which occurred on Wednesday. The reason is that the orbit's low point
will lie 13.5 miles (21.7 km) deeper into the Martian atmosphere than
before. However, the flight team still expects that Friday's atmospheric
pass will have little effect on lowering the high point of the
spacecraft's orbit.

Over the next week, the flight team will continue to lower the low point
of the orbit deeper into the atmosphere on an orbit by orbit basis. In
about one week, the altitude of the atmospheric pass will be deep enough
to slow the spacecraft by an appreciable amount on every orbit. At that
time, the high point of Surveyor's orbit will begin to shrink by
noticeable amounts.

After a mission elapsed time of 315 days from launch, Surveyor is 161.31
million miles (259.60 million kilometers) from the Earth and in an orbit
around Mars with a period of just under 45 hours. The spacecraft is
currently executing the P4 command sequence, and all systems continue to
be in excellent condition.


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