Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.

UPDATE # 19 - January 31, 1997

PART 1: WebChat Schedule
PART 2: Planet Explorer Toolkit Update
PART 3: Mars Global Surveyor Flight Status


Wed. February 5, 9-10 a.m., PST, Phil Christensen: Phil is a planetary
geologist and a professor at Arizona State University. He uses
satellite images to study the surface of planets in the solar system.
Phil currently has an instrument on the Mars Global Surveyor
spacecraft called a Thermal Emission Spectrometer. Read more
about Phil in his biography:

Tues. February 11, 10-11 a.m., PST, Mike Mellon: Water on Mars has
attracted a great deal of interest from scientists. Mike's work
focuses primarily on studying martian geology and climate, and as a
link between these two, water. Mike is investigating where water on
Mars could be located. Check out Mike's biography at:

Wed. February 19, 9-10 a.m., PST, Mike Malin: Mike designed and built
three camera systems to be flown to Mars on planetary spacecraft
over the next four years. One system is currently onboard the Mars
Global Surveyor. Mike is responsible for the camera systems from
beginning to end--from coming up with the idea and building the
cameras, to taking the photographs and distributing the images to
scientists and you! Go to Mike's very interesting bio at:

Wed. February 26, 9-10 a.m., PST, Jim Murphy: As a meteorologist
and researcher, Jim's work consists of developing computer models
of the martian atmosphere, as well as analyzing data from past
spacecraft missions to Mars and participating in upcoming missions
to Mars. Jim's current plans are to study the weather data sent back
by the Mars Pathfinder from the surface of Mars. Read more about
Jim in his biography at:

If you plan to participate, please RSVP for each event to Andrea by
sending a brief Email note to This RSVP
is very important, as it will allow us to ensure that the chatroom
does not become too crowded.


The Planet Explorer Toolkit (P.E.T.) debate has seen lots of activity
during the month of January. Over 100+ postings from participants
have been exchanged in the past three weeks. Classes are tackling
each major category of tools and sharing their thoughts on their top
three in each category. The newly revised schedule (which gives us
more time to reach our goal of consensus on the "universal best
Toolkit") is as follows.

January 16-24: 	Reach agreement on weather-related tools
January 27-31: 	Reach agreement on imaging instruments
February 3-7: 	Reach agreement on items from kits and navigation
February 10-12: Reach agreement on collection tools and storage
		devices and containers
February 13-14: Reach agreement on guide books and data storage
February 17-19: Reach agreement on illumination and communication
February 19-21: Reach agreement on protection/safety, other useful
		tools, and miscellaneous tools
February 24-28: Review proposed toolkit for needs/gaps, excessive
		costs, problems, and revise as needed. Reach 
		consensus by Feb. 28.

We have already decided that the top three weather tools to be
included in the toolkit are a thermometer, barometer and
anemometer. Dr. Sanjay Limaye, planetary scientist from the
University of  Wisconsin-Madison, keeps us on the right track with
informed insights and key questions that provoke class discussion.

If you would like to learn more about the P.E.T. activity, visit the
Live From Mars web site at and
select the Special Events link.


[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, 24 January 1997

At 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Surveyor's flight computer activated
a 53-Watt heater in the Mars Orbiter Camera that will bake the
instrument's epoxy structure with the goal of removing residual
moisture. Without a bakeout period, the moisture in the camera's
tube-like structure will leak into space at a slow rate and cause its
length to gradually change. As a consequence, this tiny, slow-rate
change in the structure's length would result in a gradual shift in
the focus of the camera. The goal of the 14-day bakeout period is to
remove all of the moisture at once and stabilize the focus of the

Later in the afternoon on Wednesday, the flight team commanded
Surveyor to perform the first of three solar array "wiggle tests"
that occurred this week. Once per day on Wednesday, Thursday and
Friday, the gimbal joint holding the -Y panel to the spacecraft was
commanded to "wiggle" the panel back and forth several times over a
period of 84  seconds. During the tests, the -Y panel inner hinge
moved by 8 degrees before returning to its pre-test position.

Similar to the five "wiggle tests" performed in December, the
Wednesday test was performed with the solar panels in the normal
orientation used during the cruise phase of the mission. On Thursday
and Friday, the tests were performed with the solar panels rotated
into a position representative of that used during an engine firing
and aerobraking, respectively.

The flight team examined telemetry transmitted back to Earth to
study the nature of the vibrations in the spacecraft that resulted
from the "wiggling." The data will provide valuable insight into
determining the best method to clear the broken damper arm that is
wedged in the hinge joint holding the panel to the spacecraft. This
wedged condition is keeping the -Y panel 20.5 degrees from its
proper position.

One option under study is to combine a "wiggle test" with a small
firing of Surveyor's main rocket engine. The idea is that the wiggling
will move the solar panel and allow the rocket engine to provide the
force needed to dislodge the damper arm from the hinge joint.
However, no decision has been made at this time.

After a mission-elapsed time of 78 days from launch, Surveyor is
17.52 million kilometers from the Earth, 125.97 million kilometers
from Mars, and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity
of 30.35 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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