Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.
PART 1: Upcoming WebChat
PART 2: The P.E.T. Debate is Off and Running
PART 3: Other Online Projects Starting
PART 4: Mars Global Surveyor Flight Status
***Wednesday, January 15, 9 a.m., PST*** This week's Live From Mars Chat will feature Mary Urquhart, a research assistant and fifth-year graduate student from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Mary does a lot! Not only is she a research assistant for a NASA scientist, she is also a graduate student in the Astrophysical, Planetary and Atmospheric Sciences Department at CU. Mary's research focuses on the interaction between hot water, rocks, gases in the atmosphere and gases released by molten rock on Mars. Mary also writes K-12 curriculum (see "Reaching for the Red Planet" on her home page). In addition, she's a singer, a gardener and enjoys spending time with her husband and cat. This is a first-hand opportunity to find out what it takes to become a scientist or researcher from someone who is doing it right now! Join us January 15 at 9 a.m. PST! Weekly WebChats offer an opportunity for your students to virtually meet the people on the front lines of the Mars exploration adventure. Teachers have reported that the Chats really enliven students' enthusiasm. To best prepare, please have your students read Mary's interesting biography before the WebChat: http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/team/urquhart.html Also, Mary has a great home page that you can link to from her biography. To join in the fun, point your Web browser to http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/events/interact.htmlto follow the links to the *moderated* Chatroom for experts. If you plan to participate in this event, please RSVP to Andrea by sending a brief email note to email@example.com telling her that you plan to join the session. This RSVP is very important, as it will allow us to ensure that the Chatroom does not become overly crowded.
The P.E.T. Debate is Off and Running
January 6, 1997 marked the starting date of the Planet Explorer Toolkit (P.E.T) Debate and it is off to a great beginning! Our goal is to reach consensus by January 31 on the universal best toolkit, which participating classes will use to actually collect "planetary data." This activity is designed to emulate the mission planning and payload planning activities followed by the Mars mission scientists. To access the P.E.T. activity overview and timeline go to: http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/events/pet.html Over 80 P.E.T. proposals were submitted by more than 2600 students from grades 2-12 around the US and international locales. After one week we are already engaged in a lively debate led by Dr. Sanjay Limaye, a planetary scientist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Limaye has given us the scientist's perspective on mission planning and payload designs as well as challenged students to think critically about the proposals. Classes have been busy submitting questions about "tools" included in the proposals and helping each other by sharing their databases, ideas on how to categorize the P.E.T. tools, and proposing methods on how to deal with such a large number of proposals from such a diverse group of students. The debate is taking place online via the debate-lfm mail list. To join this list, send a message to: Leave the subject blank. In the message body, write: subscribe debate-lfm Send your message and you will receive a confirmation message adding you to the list. You will receive all messages posted to the debate-lfm forum. You can also access the debate-lfm archive by visiting the Live From Mars Web site: http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/debate-lfm-lwgate.html
OTHER ONLINE PROJECTS STARTING
As Live From Mars continues and Live From Antarctica begins, you should also be aware of other related online projects. All of these projects connect classrooms with the people at NASA. To find out more information, visit the "Sharing NASA" home page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/interactive To continue to stay informed about new opportunities, join the mail list by sending a message to In the message body, write these words: subscribe sharing-nasa In the meanwhile, here is a brief list of what is currently available or planned soon. Participation in these projects is free. To partake, first join the mail list and then visit the Web home page. Women of NASA (September 1996 - June 1997) Send email to in the message body write: subscribe updates-won http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/women/intro.html Women of NASA provides an opportunity to meet some of NASA's women via scheduled 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. Online From Jupiter 97 (late February - March 1997) Send email to in the message body write: subscribe updates-jup http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/galileo Online From Jupiter 97 will follow NASA's Galileo team as they guide their spacecraft past an encounter with Jupiter's mysterious moon Europa. Europa is surrounded by a frozen shell of ice which covers a potential ocean of liquid water. Some speculate that this water could host some form of life presently. Shuttle Team Online (March - May 1997) Send email to in the message body write: subscribe updates-sto http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/shuttle Join the men and women who make the space shuttle fly and learn about their diverse and exciting careers. We'll peek behind the scenes as these folks train astronauts, prepare the shuttle between missions, launch the shuttle, successfully execute the mission from Mission Control and safely land the shuttle. The focus will be on STS-83, a 16-day microgravity lab scheduled for launch March 28, 1997.
[Editor's note: This status report on the Mars Global Surveyor mission was prepared by the Office of the Flight Operations Manager, Mars Surveyor Operations Project, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.] MARS GLOBAL SURVEYOR FLIGHT STATUS REPORT Friday, 10 January 1997 This week marked the transition from the inner-cruise to the outer- cruise phase of the mission. One of the first transition tasks occurred early Monday morning when the flight team sent a set of commands to change Surveyor's pointing orientation. The commands turned the spacecraft from its previous orientation of +X axis pointed 60 degrees away from the Sun to a position where the +X axis is pointed directly at the Earth. One of the benefits of this new pointing orientation is that Surveyor can now use its high-gain antenna to communicate with the Earth. This antenna is mounted on the spacecraft's +X axis and its narrow- beam signal requires that the spacecraft point directly at Earth. Until now, Surveyor was utilizing its wide-beam, low-gain antenna for communications. The high-gain antenna broadcasts with greater power and will allow the spacecraft to transmit data at higher data rates. Before January, it was impossible to use the high-gain antenna because an Earth-pointed orientation would have placed Surveyor at an unfavorable angle with respect to the Sun. The switch from the low-gain to the high-gain antenna occurred early Thursday morning. The flight team is continuing to diagnose the position discrepancy in Surveyor's -Y solar panel which is deployed, but 20.5 degrees from its proper position. Engineering data transmitted to Earth during the five solar array "wiggle tests" conducted in December support the current model regarding the nature of the obstruction keeping the array out of position. The model suggests that a damper shaft in the solar array's deployment mechanism broke shortly after launch, approximately 43 seconds after the start of the array's deployment. This damper is a device that was installed to minimize the mechanical shock of deployment by slowing the motion of the array during deployment. The flight team theorizes that the broken shaft caused the damper arm to wedge into the hinge joint connecting the solar panel to the spacecraft. Attitude-control telemetry recorded by the spacecraft during solar array deployment corroborates this theory. Plans are currently being developed for three more solar array "wiggle tests" during the week of January 20. Data from these upcoming tests and the five previous tests in December will assist the flight team in determining the best method to attempt to free the damper arm from the hinge joint. Today, the flight team transmitted the C4 sequence to Surveyor. C4 contains commands that will control Surveyor for the next five weeks. The first activities in C4 will start on January 13 and will involve using the Mars Orbiter Camera to image stars over four consecutive days. These star images will allow the camera team to refine the camera's focusing capability. After a mission elapsed time of 64 days from launch, Surveyor is 14.79 million kilometers from the Earth and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity of 31.32 kilometers per second. This orbit will intercept Mars on September 12, 1997. All systems on the spacecraft continue to be in excellent condition.
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