Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.

L I V E F R O M M A R S - A Passport to Knowledge Project

UPDATE # 59 - November 6, 1997

PART 1: Weather Worlds Update: Final Plans & Updated Timetable

PART 2: Live Event: November 13 Broadcast!

PART 3: Opportunity: Send in Your Questions for Live Broadcast!

PART 4: Rock Star Report

PART 5: Two New Web Chats Scheduled

PART 6: New Challenge Question

PART 7: Mars Pathfinder Mission Status

PART 8: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it!



As of press time, 19 final plans for Weather Worlds have been received
from classrooms around the country. The LFM Team is in the process of
posting the plans. To view them go to:

Even if you were unable to participate in Phase 1, it's not too late to
sign up for Weather Worlds Phase 2! For details go to:


Week of November 3: Classes test their plans and debate the procedures for
data collection on the debate-lfm list. NASA experts will be available to
help with the debate. 

Because revised class plans were still being received early this week,
they are still being processed for posting on the LIVE FROM MARS site.
Posting of all 19 plans will be completed by end of day, Thursday,
November 6. 

Weeks of November 10 and 17: Classes will collect data following the
procedures decided upon during the debate.


The final live LFM program, "Live From Mars #5: Today on Mars," will air
Thursday, November 13, 1997, 1-2 p.m., EST. For the first time, closed
captioning will be made available due to additional support from the
Digital Equipment Corporation. 

Please note that closed captioning will be available for PBS broadcasting
only, not NASA TV.

For a complete program description go to:

For descriptions of the hands-on activities related to this live broadcast
go to:

For detailed satellite coordinate information go to:
(See Broadcast section)


Students may email questions to be read DURING the live November 13
Questions must be submitted BEFORE the broadcast in order to have a chance
at being read. In order to have the best shot at this, the questions
should relate directly to the themes to be covered in the broadcast:

1. Mars Global Surveyor: Review the latest JPL press release for
information on the extended aerobraking period. To find the press release
go to:
2. Martian weather: How does the weather on Earth compare to the weather
on Mars? 
3. Mars' magnetic field: See last week's "Science News" for an update on
multiple magnetic anomalies and only one small, weak magnetic field.
4. Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter (MOLA): The only data from MOLA were
acquired during Mars Global Surveyor's third orbit. See the MGS Web site
for an overview of the results.
5. Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES)

Please email your individual questions NO LATER THAN SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9
Include student's name, grade, school, town and state.

To ensure you get a response from NASA's Mars Team, even if your question
is not selected for use on air, you should also cc the question to:

Part of November 13's broadcast will be coming live from TES Control at
Arizona State University. In addition to having the questions read and
answered from there, results from students' submissions of rocks from
around the country will also be announced. (See Rock Star Report below.)


So you went out and found them-- you dug in your garden, you tripped over
them while hiking and they caught your eye while you were crossing a
stream! We received your 20 pebble-sized rock samples and randomly
selected and forwarded three of them to the Thermal Emission Spectrometer
team at Arizona State University for analyses. Watch for the results on
the November 13 live broadcast of "Today on Mars"!

For all of you who submitted classroom photos, they will be posted in the
Kids' Corner soon!


Wednesday, November 12, 1997, 10-11 a.m., PST
Pathfinder Mission Manager Richard Cook will discuss the Pathfinder team's
strategy for sending commands to the lander periodically, highlights of
the mission, and what team members are up to now.

Tuesday, November 18, 1997, 10:30-11:30 a.m., PST
David Mittman has worn three hats during the Pathfinder mission: flight
engineer, mission planner and flight controller. David will bring us up to
date on the operations of the lander and rover, what the commands to
Pathfinder consist of (specific tasks such as "Call Home!"), and the Deep
Space Network's role now that Pathfinder isn't communicating.

Please be sure to read Richard's and David's biographies BEFORE the chat
so that intelligent questions can be asked! We are extremely grateful for
the time the experts can give us and we want to make this a worthwhile
experience for them also!

Richard's bio can be found at:

To read David's bio and journals go to:


Last week's question--
CQ#3: There may or may not be a face on Mars, but there's certainly a
grin! What is it and where is it?

Hint #1: On Mars you might need Sojourner's camera to see it because
there's no mirror for this face to look in.
Hint #2: This is far and away our most impish Challenge Question ever!

Answer: As Pete Smith said in one of the early press conferences, the
Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP for short) has two camera "eyes" and just
beneath them a curved line of indentations required by engineering
considerations. It was Pete, designer of the camera, who described this as
looking like a grin.

New question for the week--
CQ#4: Looking around the Pathfinder landing site and comparing what you
see to the scene around the Viking 1 lander, you should be able to figure
out why temperatures from Pathfinder are higher than from Viking, at much
the same season and from a location near by.

Hint #1: It's not the difference in altitude.
Hint #2: Researchers don't think they're seeing global temperature
Hint #3: What do you do when you're going to be out in the summer sun for
a long time?

For the answer, check here next week. Have fun!


[Editor's note: NASA Press Release: 97-255]

Mars Pathfinder Winds Down After Phenomenal Mission

After operating on the surface of Mars three times longer than expected
and returning a tremendous amount of new information about the red planet,
NASA's Mars Pathfinder mission is winding down.

Flight operators at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, made
the announcement today after attempting to reestablish communications with
the spacecraft over the last month. With depletion of the spacecraft's
main battery and no success in contacting Mars Pathfinder via its main or
secondary transmitters, the flight team cannot command the spacecraft or
the small rover named Sojourner that had been roving about the landing
site and studying rocks.

"We concede that the likelihood of hearing from the spacecraft again
diminishes with each day," said Pathfinder Project Manager Brian Muirhead.
"We will scale back our efforts to reestablish contact but not give up

"Given that, and the fact that Pathfinder is the first of several missions
to Mars, we'll say 'see you later' instead of saying goodbye," he said.

At the time the last telemetry from the spacecraft was received,
Pathfinder's lander had operated nearly three times its design lifetime of
30 days, and the Sojourner rover operated 12 times its design lifetime of
seven days.

"I want to thank the many talented men and women at NASA for making the
mission such a phenomenal success.  It embodies the spirit of NASA, and
serves as a model for future missions that are faster, better, and
cheaper.  Today, NASA's Pathfinder team should take a bow, because America
is giving them a standing ovation for a stellar performance," said NASA
Administrator Daniel S. Goldin.

Since its landing on July 4, 1997, Mars Pathfinder has returned 2.6
billion bits of information, including more than 16,000 images from the
lander and 550 images from the rover, as well as more than 15 chemical
analyses of rocks and extensive data on winds and other weather factors.
The only remaining objective was to complete the high-resolution
360-degree image of the landing site called the "Super Pan," of which 83
percent has already been received and is being processed. The last
successful data transmission cycle from Pathfinder was completed at 3:23
a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Sept. 27, which was Sol 83 of the mission.

"This mission has advanced our knowledge of Mars tremendously and will
surely be a beacon of success for upcoming missions to the red planet,"
added Dr. David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of
Technology, which manages JPL for NASA. "Done quickly and within a very
limited budget, Pathfinder sets a standard for 21st century space

The Mars Pathfinder team first began having communications problems with
the spacecraft on Saturday, Sept. 27. After three days of attempting to
reestablish contact, they were able to lock on to a carrier signal from
the spacecraft's auxiliary transmitter on Oct. 1, which meant that the
spacecraft was still operational. They locked on to the same carrier
signal again on Oct. 6, but were not able to acquire data on the condition
of the lander. At that time, the team surmised that the intermittent
communications were most likely related to depletion of the spacecraft's
battery and a drop in the spacecraft's operating temperatures due to the
loss of the battery, which kept the lander functioning at warmer

Over the last month the operations team has been working through all
credible problem scenarios and taking a variety of actions in attempting
to recover the link with Pathfinder. With all of the most plausible
possibilities exhausted, the team plans to continue sending commands and
listening for a spacecraft signal on a less frequent basis.

"Basically we are shifting to a contingency strategy of sending commands
to the lander only periodically, perhaps once a week or once per month,"
said Mission Manager Richard Cook. "Normal mission operations are over,
but there is still a small chance of reestablishing a link, so we'll keep
trying at a very low level."

Although the true cause of the loss of lander communications may never be
known, recent events are consistent with predictions made at the beginning
of the extended mission in early August, Muirhead said. When asked about
the life expectancy of the lander, project team members predicted that the
first thing that would fail on the lander would be the battery; this
apparently happened after the last successful transmission September 27.

After that, the lander was expected to begin getting colder at night and
go through much deeper day-night thermal cycles. Eventually, the cold or
the cycling would probably render the lander inoperable. According to
Muirhead, it appears that this sequence of events has probably taken
place. The health and status of the rover is also unknown, but since
initiating its onboard backup operations plan a month ago, the rover is
probably circling the vicinity of the lander, attempting to communicate
with it.

The rover, which went into a contingency mode on Oct. 6, or Sol 92 of the
mission, had completed an alpha proton X-ray spectrometer study of a rock
nicknamed Chimp, to the left of the Rock Garden, when it was last heard
from. The rover team had planned to send the rover on its longest journey
yet -- a 165-foot (50-meter) clockwise stroll around the lander -- to
perform a series of technology experiments and hazard avoidance exercises
when the communications outage occurred. That excursion was never
initiated once the rover's contingency software began operating.

Now known as the Sagan Memorial Station, the Mars Pathfinder lander was
designed primarily to demonstrate a low-cost way of delivering a set of
science instruments and a 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 first tested in this "pathfinding"

Part of NASA's Discovery program of low-cost planetary missions, the
spacecraft used an innovative method of directly entering the Martian
atmosphere. Assisted by a 36-foot-diameter (11-meter) parachute, the
spacecraft descended to the surface of Mars on July 4 and landed, using
airbags to cushion the impact. The spacecraft's novel entry was

Scientific highlights of the Mars Pathfinder mission are:

* Martian dust includes magnetic, composite particles, with a 
    mean size of one micron.

* Rock chemistry at the landing site may be different from 
    Martian meteorites found on Earth, and could be of basaltic 
    andesite composition.

* The soil chemistry of Ares Vallis appears to be similar to that 
    of the Viking 1 and 2 landing sites.

* The observed atmospheric clarity is higher than was expected 
    from Earth-based microwave measurements and Hubble Space 
    Telescope observations.

* Dust is confirmed as the dominant absorber of solar radiation 
    in Mars' atmosphere, which has important consequences for the 
    transport of energy in the atmosphere and its circulation.
    Frequent "dust devils" were found with an unmistakable 
    temperature, wind and pressure signature, and morning 
    turbulence; at least one may have contained dust (on Sol 62), 
    suggesting that these gusts are a mechanism for mixing dust into 
    the atmosphere.

* Evidence of wind abrasion of rocks and dune-shaped deposits was 
    found, indicating the presence of sand.

* Morning atmospheric obscurations are due to clouds, not ground 
    fog; Viking could not distinguish between these two possibilities.

* The weather was similar to the weather encountered by Viking 1; 
    there were rapid pressure and temperature variations, downslope 
    winds at night and light winds in general. Temperatures were 
    about 10 degrees warmer than those measured by Viking 1.

* Diversity of albedos, or variations in the brightness of the 
    Martian surface, was similar to other observations, but there was 
    no evidence for the types of crystalline hematite or pyroxene 
    absorption features detected in other locations on Mars.

* The atmospheric experiment package recorded a temperature 
    profile different than expected from microwave measurements 
    and Hubble observations.

* Rock size distribution was consistent with a flood-related deposit.

* The moment of inertia of Mars was refined to a corresponding 
    core radius of between 807 miles and 1,242 miles (1,300 and 
    2,000 kilometers).

* The possible identification of rounded pebbles and cobbles on 
    the ground, and sockets and pebbles in some rocks, suggests 
    conglomerates that formed in running water, during a warmer 
    past in which liquid water was stable.

Engineering milestones of the mission included demonstrating a new way of
delivering a spacecraft to the surface of Mars by way of direct entry into
the Martian atmosphere. In addition, Mars Pathfinder demonstrated for the
first time the ability of engineers to deliver a semi-autonomous roving
vehicle capable of conducting science experiments to the surface of
another planet.

The Mars Pathfinder mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. The mission is the
second in the Discovery program of fast track, 
low-cost spacecraft with highly focused science goals. JPL is managed by
the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.


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