Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.

UPDATE # 17 - January 10, 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'

To best prepare, please have your students read Mary's interesting
biography before the WebChat:
Also, Mary has a great home page that you can link to from her

To join in the fun, point your Web browser to 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 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:
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:


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
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
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)
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       in the message body write: subscribe updates-jup
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)
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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,

[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.]

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

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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