Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE!
Last week, in CQ #2: WHO ARE THEY?, we asked: In the 19th and 20th centuries two men with almost the same last name created the exact same titles in two different media. Who were these men and what did they write and produce? ANSWER: In 1898 H.G. Wells wrote the 17-chapter novel "The War of the Worlds." Forty years later, Orson Welles adapted the novel for radio and on the night before Halloween in 1938, he starred in a radio drama by the same name. This began the most stunning single program ever broadcast on radio. It set off a wave of mass hysteria as Welles described in breathless radio news bulletins and on-the- scene reports that Martians had invaded New Jersey. Even though CBS made four announcements during the radio show that it was "only a play," may listeners did not year them. Panic swept through New Jersey as people fled their homes and covered their faces with wet handkerchiefs to protect themselves from the reported poison gases! A list of answers from all students who submitted them will be posted on the Live From Mars Web site soon. CQ #3: DIFFERENCES & SIMILARITIES -- CAN YOU NAME THEM? With the exception of size, what is the major difference between Earth and Mars? And, in what way are Earth and Mars most alike? Bonus Question: What do we mean when we say that "this feature" may make Earth unique when compared to other planets (but maybe not the moons) in our solar system? You are invited to send original student answers to: email@example.com. Please include the words CHALLENGE QUESTION in the subject line of your email. The kids' names will be listed online and token prizes will be given to those will the best answers. Answers are due within seven full days of Challenge Question posting. (e.g. If a CQ is posted on April 4, answers are due by midnight PST on April 11.)
JOIN IN DISCOVERY CHANNEL CHATS
Join Discovery Channel School and NASA's K-12 Quest Project for an exciting week of WebChats with NASA experts! During the week of April 7 -11, everyday there will be a two-hour chat from 11 am-1 pm Pacific and 2-4 pm Eastern. Topics of the chats will include: Monday - Today's Missions to Mars Tuesday - Planning Space Missions Wednesday - Looking for Life in Space Thursday - Exploring the Solar System Friday - Human Survival in Space Each day, two or three different scientists will share their experiences and knowledge about these topics. To join the chats go to: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/discovery For curriculum support materials for these programs, see: http://school.discovery.com/spring97/themes/earthtomars/
NASA TV BROADCASTS "CRUISING BETWEEN THE PLANETS"
April 24: Live From Mars Program 2 "Cruising Between the Planets" Broadcast live at 13:00-14:00 EST Join a first-hand account of behind-the-scenes activities at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the lead center for planetary exploration. You will see how rocket fuel, momentum, gravity and ingenuity blast spacecraft from Earth to Mars. Up-to- date reports on Pathfinder's and Global Surveyor's progress will be given and you will be meet the men and women who control the missions and who build and test robots. A full overview of "Cruising Between the Planets" is available at the Live From Mars Web site at:http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/teachers/tg/program2/index.html
LAUNCHING THE PLANET EXPLORER TOOLKIT
If you are participating in the Launch Phase of the Live From Mars Planet Explorer Toolkit activity, this notice is for you! The Planetary Data Input (PDI) Web-based form is now available for classes who have collected their data and are ready to input/post the information. The form allows you to conveniently input your data and submit it via the LFM Web site at: http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/events/pdi.html Even though many classes will be conducting their data collection during the upcoming week or so, it is not too late to participate! For more information about the Planet Explorer Toolkit activity, see the full overview at: http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm Select "Featured Events," where you will find the Planet Explorer Toolkit link.
MARS TEAM JOURNAL
A Day in the Life of a Gravity Man by Bill Sjogren [Editor's note: Bill is a senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. His specialty is determining gravity fields of planetary bodies. Presently, he is the principal investigator on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mission for the gravity experiment.] March 17, 1997 Today was a very busy day. If you could have spent the day with me, here is a list of some of the things we would have done together: 1. Evaluated Doppler and ranging data coming from the Surveyor spacecraft (now in cruise phase), so the data during the orbiting phase will be high quality for gravity parameter extraction. Radio tracking of the MGS is done at a frequency of 8,400,000,000 cycles per second. A shift in this frequency is a measure of the spacecraft speed. It's like a train whistle: When the train is coming fast toward you, its whistle will have a high pitch; when it is going away from you, it will have a low pitch. We can measure the speed of the MGS spacecraft to better than one inch per hour (that's slower than a snail crawl!) when its moving at a speed of 5400 miles/hour on its way to Mars. Presently the spacecraft is rolling around the line toward Earth so as to keep its attitude correct using its star sensors. However, it is not precisely rolling about this line for we can see in the radio tracking data that it is off by 8 millimeters. This must be corrected by the time we go into orbit about Mars for this effect will greatly degrade our gravity field determination. I'm in constant communication with the spacecraft team in Colorado to reduce this effect and send them plots of the data as evidence that they have a problem. There is also a problem at the Deep Space Tracking station in Australia. The ranging data are not being calibrated correctly, which causes the trajectory computation to be in error and again this will have its effect on our gravity reduction. 2. Interviewed a new candidate to help program our H.P. supercomputer, where we will be estimating, simultaneously, approximately 6000 unknowns with Doppler radio tracking data. Interviewing candidates for a job takes a lot of time. This is the procedure I must follow: - examine college grades (must have a Masters or Doctoral degree) - review course work - talk to references and professors - speak with candidate to see if this person is a good match for the job - fill out all kinds of paperwork that JPL requires - get signatures for approval from higher management Following this process takes months to bring someone new onboard! 3. Made viewgraphs for a presentation to MGS Project on a low orbit that will produce high-resolution gravity observations and new scientific results. The best gravity-field observations are obtained when the spacecraft is at low altitudes. This is because gravity is a direct measure of acceleration on a particle at a particular location from it. So the closer the spacecraft is to Mars, the better the variations in gravity are sensed. Gravity variations tell us something about the internal (and also surface) mass distribution. Denser materials beneath the surface will show more gravity, while craters on the surface will show less gravity. Immediately after aerobraking the nominal plan is to circularize the spacecraft's orbit to 400 kilometer altitude. My suggestion to the MGS Project is to not go to 400 kilometers, but go down to 200 kilometers for two weeks and then go up to 400 kilometers for the mapping mission. I must convince the project that we will have excellent science results and that the risks are worth the payoff and would not cause the mission to fail.
GLOBAL SURVEYOR FLIGHT STATUS
[Editor's note: This status report was prepared by the Office of the Flight Operations Manager, Mars Surveyor Operations Project, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.] March 28, 1997 No major activities occurred onboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft this week. Meanwhile, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Surveyor's navigation team has completed their preliminary assessment of the trajectory correction maneuver that took place on March 20. This short firing of the spacecraft's main rocket engine resulted in a velocity change of 3.875 meters per second and refined Surveyor's flight path to Mars. Initial analysis provided by the navigation team indicates that the spacecraft performed the maneuver with an accuracy of greater than 99%. Consequently, the spacecraft is now on a flight path that will come within 630 kilometers of the Martian surface at the point of closest approach on September 12. Additional trajectory correction maneuvers scheduled for April 21 and August 25 will reduce this approach altitude to 500 and 380 kilometers, respectively. After a mission-elapsed time of 141 days from launch, Surveyor is 54.12 million kilometers from the Earth, 58..29 million kilometers from Mars, and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity of 25.82 kilometers per second. This orbit will intercept Mars on September 12, 1997. The spacecraft is currently executing the C6 command sequence, and all systems continue to be in excellent condition.
PATHFINDER MISSION STATUS
[Editor's note: This status report was prepared by the Office of the Flight Operations Manager, Mars Pathfinder Mission, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.] March 28, 1997 The spacecraft remains in good health and is currently about 55 million kilometers from Earth. The most significant spacecraft activity performed this week was to turn the spacecraft to a 5- degree Earth leading attitude. Regular attitude turns will be required for the remainder of cruise to keep the spacecraft pointed within 5 degrees of Earth. The propulsion and attitude control subsystems functioned flawlessly after a seven-week hiatus. Successfully completed a set of sun recognition tests using the Prototype IMP at the University of Arizona. These tests have boosted our confidence that we can successfully perform sun search and point the High Gain Antenna after landing. An IMP Science Team meeting was held at the University of Arizona on March 25, 26. The sequence changes for Sols 1 and 2 were reviewed. The mission plan for sols 3-5 was discussed and a scenario for the imaging observations was adopted. Discussions of image processing plans and data distribution were held and a number of contentious issues were resolved.
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