Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.
ANSWERING THE CHALLENGE!
Last week, in CQ #6: COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS, we asked: What five features make Mars most like Earth? And, what five features make Mars most unlike Earth? ANSWERS: Students have come up with some new points of comparison between Earth and Mars, but these are some of the more obvious and acceptable answers: Alike: - atmosphere: though Mars' is much thinner than Earths - weather: Mars has frost, clouds, but in the current epoch no "precipitation" - channels that seem to have been carved by running water - Grand Canyon and Vallis Marineris - Earthquakes and Marsquakes - impact craters - volcanoes - night and day - fossil evidence of past life (this will only be accepted if students say it's "definite" for Earth, "possible" for Mars, reflecting continuing scientific debate about what the features in ALH 84001 really mean!). See below, Different!!! Different: - liquid water - plate tectonics: though there are Marsquakes, the mighty volcanoes show that the crust has sat over long-lived lava hot spots, rather than riding over them, and forming features like the chain of islands we know as Hawaii - no ozone layer on Mars protecting the surface - no large, surface life (plants/animals) on Mars compared to Earth - Mars' day and year are longer than Earth's - Vallis Marineris was formed by rifting, not carved by a river, as was the Grand Canyon - fossil evidence of past life (but this will only be accepted if students say it's "definite" for Earth, "possible" for Mars, reflecting continuing scientific debate about what the features in ALH 84001 really mean!) See above, Alike!!! - no students participating in Live From Earth A list of answers from all students who submitted them will be posted on the Live From Mars Web site soon. This is the last Challenge Question in this series.
Tuesday, May 6, 10-11 a.m., Pacific: Pete Kallemeyn. Pete is the navigation team leader for the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft. He is responsible for determining where Pathfinder is, predicting where it will go in the near future, and determining the means to correct the path in order for us to reach the surface of Mars on July 4. Please prepare for the WebChat by having your students read Petes bio at: http://quest/lfm/team/kallemeyn.html Thursday, May 15, 9-10 a.m., Pacific: Phil Christensen. Phil is the principal investigator for the Thermal Emission Spectrometer instrument onboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. In addition, Phil is also a professor at Arizona State University where he works as a planetary geologist. He enjoys teaching courses on the solar system, the geology of Mars, and the use of satellite images and data to study planetary surfaces. Please prepare for the WebChat by having your students read Phils bio at: http://quest/lfm/team/christensen.html
If you missed the recent live telecast of Program 2, "Cruising Between the Planets" (aired April 24), you may still access the program via NASA-TV on May 6 and May 22, as part of the Education File Schedule that airs several times on each of these dates. LFM Program 1, "Countdown," also airs again May 5 and 21. See schedule below for more information and for satellite coordinates. May 5 & 21 Live From Mars Program 1 "Countdown" (rebroadcast of live performance) Level: Grades 5-12 (57:30) "Countdown" introduces a new series of "Passport to Knowledge" electronic field trips. Live From Mars Program I takes students behind closed doors at Cape Canaveral to see NASA's Pathfinder spacecraft close-up, just days before its successful early December launch, and invites students and teachers to follow Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor online via the Internet and with hands-on discovery activities throughout the next two school years. May 6 & 22 Live From Mars Program 2: "Cruising Between the Planets" Level: Grades K-12 (60:00) Behind the scenes at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, lead center for planetary exploration. How rocket fuel, momentum, gravity and ingenuity get spacecraft from Earth to Mars. Mars Pathfinder's and Global Surveyor's progress to date. Portraits of the men and women who control the missions. Building and testing the robotic rover, Sojourner. Highlights of hands-on student activities including the LFM Planet Explorer Toolkit; the Egg Drop Challenge; and Red Rover, Red Rover. The NASA TV satellite coordinates are: GE-2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 Mhz, and audio of 6.8 Mhz. 2-3 pm, 5-6 pm, 8-9 pm, 11 pm-12 am, 2-3 am, Eastern. NASA TV may preempt scheduled programming for live agency events. Videotapes Also Available If you do not have access to NASA-TV you may order a copy of each of the Live From Mars programs on VHS videotape for $19.95 (includes shipping and handling). Send a check, money order, or school purchase order made out to Passport to Knowledge and send along with your full mailing address to: Passport to Knowledge P.O. Box 1502 Summit, NJ 07902-1502 You may fax school purchase orders to: 973-656-9813. Remember to indicate which program you wish to order: "Countdown" or "Cruising Between the Planets," or both.
by Geoff Haines-Stiles [Editor's note: Geoff is the project director of Passport to Knowledge and the Live From... television specials.] April 30, 1997 We hope you were able to view LFM 102, "Cruising Between the Planets," live on your local PBS station or NASA-TV. What you couldnt see was the "scene behind the screens," both at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and in classrooms around the country. So we thought you might be interested in a few word pictures from here and there. We caught the Mars Pathfinder team at the best and worst of times. They were right in the middle of their "S.N.O.R.T.," Surface Nominal Operations Readiness Test, simulating the first week on Mars, and they were taking it very seriously! Though the Lander and Sojourner were only a closed room away, the scientists and engineers spoke, obsessed and brainstormed as if they had truly landed on Mars. And the folks who set up the simulation had served up an especially difficult challenge. First, Pathfinder landed "nose-down" and had to right itself, and then they arranged things so that one ramp led down at an angle greater than what's safe for Sojourner and that the other would open right onto a sand dune that looked dangerous for other reasons. So, what to do? They heatedly debated late at night and early into the morning -- the same shifts they'll be working this coming July -- what did each picture mean, was it safe to deploy the rover, how to jiggle the petals to make the slope safe to roll down? There were more than 75 people from JPL and universities across the nation, all dedicated, all excited, all working hard to solve the problems. (By the way, it was great to see Carol Stoker and Mike Sims, experts on virtual reality from NASA Ames, who'd been part of our 1993 pilot project, Live From Other Worlds, in which the Mars Exploration Program's Donna Shirley had also been a guest. It's a small universe!) Into the middle of this focused maelstrom came all of us, a large TV crew from PTK's east coast home base, Mississippi and Los Angeles. There were lighting directors, camera people and satellite uplink experts. During one production meeting, Rob Manning and Brian Muirhead looked around the wide circle of people taking notes, checking times and problem-solving and murmured, "Looks just like a mission." And in some ways it was, especially the tension of "launching" live at 13:00 hours Eastern, and making all the planning pay off during an hour of hectic activity. Viewing the program, and indeed looking at the whole Live From Mars project, what we hope you saw and see are the many parallels between what students have done or can do in class or home, and what NASA researchers and engineers do to build and fly missions. The many teacher-submitted scenes we aired during Program 2 -- of students driving rovers, building and deploying the "Planet Explorer Toolkit" or simulating Pathfinder's airbag-cushioned landing with eggs, balloons and parachutes -- demonstrate that this kind of learning experience brings students much closer to the real-world challenges and excitement of actually doing science than past approaches. We hope you are seeing beneficial results in student attitudes, skills and content knowledge. We're also pleased to tell you that the scientists and engineers on the other end of this interaction also admire and appreciate what you and your students are doing. We hope you'll keep on sharing verbal reports, photos, videos and press clips with LFM so we can document the many different activities you've been up to. Lastly, and most importantly, we want to thank all the Mars Pathfinder Team, as well as those Mars Global Surveyor folks who helped us (Wayne Lee, Pat Esposito, Glenn Cunningham), for welcoming us to JPL and showing us around at a very busy time. Thanks to Donna Shirley, Brian Muirhead, Rob Manning and all the others who appeared on camera and behind the scenes: Richard Cook, Babette Montana and Tony Spear. We wish you well, in the last few months before you arrive at Mars, just as we salute you educators and students in the last weeks of this school year. We hope you've enjoyed Live From Mars, and will find ways to connect with us via TV and online this summer and that you'll bring new students back to the project in the 1997-98 school year.
[Editor's note: This status report was prepared by the Flight Operations Manager, Mars Pathfinder Project, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.] April 25, 1997 The spacecraft remains in good health and is currently about 88 million kilometers from Earth. Major activities performed this week included a regularly scheduled attitude turn to maintain Earth point. We also transitioned to the Late Cruise mission phase and switched in the fourth and final solar panel quadrant. The total flight time since launch is now 142 days, and we have 71 days until Mars arrival. We successfully completed a week-long surface Operational Readiness Test. The purpose of this test was to train team members on operational processes and procedures and verify nominal surface operations plans. Although we had some early difficulties deploying the rover, the test was a great learning experience and an overall success. We did discover several issues with our tools and processes that we will correct prior to ORT #6 (scheduled for May 19). For more information, please visit our website at http://mpfwww.jpl.nasa.gov.
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