Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.
STATUS OF MARS GLOBAL SURVEYOR
By now, you probably know that the Mars Global Surveyor had a beautiful liftoff on November 7. This was one day late; the first launch opportunity on November 6 was scrubbed due to high winds in the upper atmosphere. After the successful launch, Deep Space Network acquisition went normally and spacecraft telemetry is being analyzed. All systems are working well, however there is an indication that the -Y inner solar array panel has not deployed fully. It is about 18 degrees short of full deployment. Efforts are underway to play back the data that were recorded during the deployment and further planning will take place when these data are evaluated. The solar arrays are providing plenty of power and the partial deployment presents no near-term threat to either the spacecraft or the mission.
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. As testimony to this, Linda Hamilton from Hunters Woods Elementary School in Reston, VA reports: The fifth and sixth grade boys have just left the science room after the live chat. They were absolutely thrilled! I was moved almost to tears when they left the computer station and came over to where I was instructing the 1st and 2nd graders wanting to know if the little ones had any special questions to ask!!! They then proceeded to explain all that they were learning! Upcoming chats Thursday, November 14 from 8-9 AM Pacific (11AM - noon Eastern) Dan Johnston is a trajectory and aerobraking design analyst for the Mars Global Surveyor project. Wednesday, November 20 from 8-9 AM Pacific (11AM - noon Eastern) Jack Farmer is an exobiologist, so he is interested in the search for life outside of Earth. His background is in paleontology (fossils) and geology (rocks). To get in on this fun, point your Web browser tohttp://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/events/interact.html
and follow the links to the chat room for experts. If you plan to participate in this event, please RSVP to Andrea by sending a brief email note to firstname.lastname@example.org telling her which sessions you plan to join. This RSVP is very important, since it will allow us to ensure that the chatroom does not become too crowded. To best prepare, please have your students read the biographies of these folks before the WebChat session. Dan:http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/team/johnston.html
On November 19 from 1-2 PM Eastern, the first Live From Mars television program will be aired. There are several ways for you to "tune in." First, check with your local PBS station to see if and when they'll broadcast the program (some stations show the programs on tape delay rather then live). We have a listing of PBS stations and their air time online (http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/video/pbs.html), but because PBS affiliates are so independent, this listing may not be 100% accurate. So consider contacting the Education Programming Director at your local PBS station for complete details. In addition, the program will be carried live over NASA TV. Some cable systems carry NASA TV. If not, and you have access to a satellite dish, NASA-TV can be found on Spacenet 2 (69 degrees West, C-band, transponder 5, channel 9, horizontal polarization, frequency, 3880 Megahertz, audio on 6.8 Mhz.). If that fails, NASA CORE will have a videotape available about one week after the air date. The tape will sell for $16.00 plus shipping to US sites. Contact NASA CORE directly for more information; their phone is (216) 774-1051, extension 293 or 294. We will also be broadcasting the program over the Internet using Real Audio (sound only), CU-SeeMe and MBONE. Additional details will be shared via this list shortly. Also, after the program we will be hosting a 90-minute WebChat party for students to connect with one another directly. That event will begin immediately after the program ends in LFM's unmoderated chat room at http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/events/webchats/mars2.html We are also considering a CU-SeeMe party to facilitate classrooms connecting using CU-SeeMe for network videoconferencing. If you are interested in that option, please send a brief note to email@example.com and indicate your interest. Please include "LFM CU-SeeME" in the subject.
PLANET EXPLORATION TOOLKIT (PET) UPDATE
By now, hopefully your classrooms are working on the PET activity. For newcomers, PET provides an opportunity to collaborate with classes around the US and the globe though special classroom activities accompanied with online student interactions. PET is designed to enhance and enrich student understanding of key scientific and technical concepts relating to NASA's two upcoming Mars Missions. In a nutshell, the activity has students design their own Planetary Explorer Toolkit, debate its merits online, haggle over which class designed the *best PET,* interact with experts on-line during the process, then together come to consensus on a uniform toolkit. Then classrooms will use this uniform toolkit to go out and collect real data about their own corner of the Planet Earth, share that information with the global community, and become data super-sleuths. For more information about the PET activity, please take a gander at this Web page: http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm/events/shoebox.html
If your class is participating in the PET, we'd like to hear from you. Please send a brief note to Jan Wee (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let her know your class is involved. In the note, include your grade level and approximately how many students are involved. It would be most helpful if the words "PET REGISTRATION" appeared in the subject of your message. When Live From Mars introduced the Planet Explorer Toolkit we said that this online collaborative activity was first suggested in a phone conversation between Mars Pathfinder Project Scientist Matt Golombek and the PTK team. Now we're delighted to have a few thoughts directly from Matt about what exactly Pathfinder is designed to do. Matt's a geologist (note how quick he is to defend rocks from being dull!) but your students should be able to see from his comments how mission GOALS determine the kinds of instruments (or TOOLS) placed on board the spacecraft. Perhaps your students can think about whether they've gone through a similar set of decisions to determine what they think is most distinctive and characteristic about the site they will likely document, and whether they've been considering the right tools for the job. On Pathfinder Instruments and What Will be Learned Matt Golombek Mars Pathfinder Project Scientist In the broadest sense Pathfinder is effectively the "ground truth" for the remote sensing data sets that Mars Global Surveyor and the Russian Mars '96 orbiters will obtain. Imagine flying over Kansas and seeing agricultural fields. In order to truly know what those fields are really like, you would need to go down to the surface and look at them up close. Pathfinder does just that: it goes down to the surface to determine what the remote sensing is trying to tell us about the area, providing close up images of an area on a scale of hundreds of meters (about the size of a football field) to see what Mars is really made of. In addition, as it descends through the Martian atmosphere, the spacecraft measures the pressure and temperature of the atmosphere to understand how the atmosphere varies with height, and after landing it takes regular meteorology measurements (providing a weather report from Mars). If you were to land on Mars, what would you do to learn something about the place where you had settled down? Probably the first thing we'd do if we went there in person is to look around using our eyes. The Lander has an imaging system (the IMP, or Imager for Mars Pathfinder) to look at what the spacecraft has landed on to tell us down here on Earth about the part of Mars where we are. It is a stereo imaging system so that we can judge depth just like with our own eyes and it can see in many different colors, again just like with our own eyes. As a result, after landing on Mars we get to look around at the landing site in color and stereo to see what is there. What do we think will be there? We don't know for sure (if we knew we would not be exploring or discovering something new). Nevertheless, we are likely to find rocks. Rocks are not dull assortments of silica, oxygen, iron, magnesium and calcium. These elements are put together into minerals in a wide variety of ways and geologists can tell from the presence of minerals in rocks specifically how the rock formed and what the environment was in which the rock formed in. How do geologists down here on Earth do this? By examining rocks up close and looking at the color, textures and material making up the rock; and sometimes also using a hand lens to identify particular minerals that are present from their size, shape, color and mineral cleavage (or how they split under pressure of some kind.) Up there on Mars, if all goes well, you can think of the Pathfinder rover as a two-foot geologist. It has wheels to allow it to roll over to rocks that look interesting, and examine them up close. In addition, it carries an instrument (the APXS -- see online for a full description of this!) that determines the elements present in whatever it is placed up against. By placing this instrument up against rocks and imaging those rocks up close, geologists hope to determine the type of rock and the minerals that its made of. From this, geologists can also tell something about the circumstances about when and where they formed. With these capabilities in mind, scientists decided to land Pathfinder at the mouth of a giant catastrophic outflow channel that drains down from ancient heavily cratered terrain. The idea was to use the flood that carved this channel as a device which should have deposited a variety of rocks within range of our Sojourner rover for examination. By examining the rocks from the channel we have the opportunity to discover what the early environment on Mars was like (was it warmer and wetter?). This is of particular interest recently because of the recent interest in possible evidence of past life in ancient meteorites believed to have come from Mars. In order for life to have existed on Mars, liquid water must have been present. By examining rocks at the landing site, Pathfinder should be able to provide geologists on Earth with enough information to determine if they were deposited in liquid water and thus its prevalence early on in Martian history.
Last week we asked: Mars has two moons: Deimos and Phobos. If you stood on the surface of Mars and looked up into the night sky, you would see Deimos slowly travel from east to west across the sky while Phobos would be slowly traveling from west to east. In other words, the two Martian moons travel in opposite directions across the Martian sky. Yet both moons actually orbit Mars in the same direction. Explain this apparent paradox. ANSWER from Bill Gutsch: The closer a satellite (natural or artificial) is to the planet it orbits, the faster it travels around that planet. Both Martian moons travel around Mars from west to east. Deimos, however, is sufficiently far from Mars (like the Earth's moon is from Earth) that it travels around the planet slower than Mars rotates on its axis. Thus, to an observer on the surface of Mars, Deimos appears to be "left behind in the sky" and appears to move from east to west. Phobos, on the other hand, is much closer and actually orbits around Mars faster than Mars rotates on its axis. Thus, to an observer on the surface, Phobos appears to "leave the observer behind" and so appears to move from west to east. Thus, from the surface of Mars, the two moons are seen to travel in opposite directions. NOTE: This a good brain teaser in relative motion. Students and teachers may wish to use models of Mars and its moons to help see the situation better. A listing of the students who submitted answers to this Challenge Question will appear on the LFM Web site shortly.
Here is a new puzzler for this week: Sometimes, the winds on Mars can blow at hundreds of miles per hour and kick up giant dust storms that blanket the entire planet. Yet, if you stood on the surface of Mars at one of these times, you would probably not be blown over. Why? You are invited to send original student answers to us. We will list the names of these folks online and token prizes will be given out to a small number of the students with the best answers. Send your answers to Jan Wee at email@example.com. Please include the words "CHALLENGE QUESTION" in the subject of the email.
[Editor's note: Mike teaches near the Kennedy Space Center and he's very engaged in the Live From Mars project. His students will be part of the November 19 television program. Here are some reports about Mike's activities] SEEING GREAT SITES WHILE TAPING FOR LFM Mike Dean October 15, 1996 Seven middle schoolers from McNair Magnet School went to the Launch Pad of the Pathfinder mission to Mars. They witnessed the erecting of the first stage of the Delta rocket. It was a beautiful sunny day and the film crew, directed by Rick Derman, did a great job helping the kids be wonderfully relaxed for the speaking parts they recorded during the erecting process. We were escorted by two Air Force officers into the pad area. By "into the pad area," I mean we were within 100 feet of the crew putting the first stage up and hundreds of feet inside the security fence. The two Air Force officers had never been inside this restricted area and were just as excited as we were. The rocket, lying horizontal on a trailer, is rolled in between two large steel towers. Then a fitting is placed on the topmost portion of the rocket stage. This fitting has two steel cables attached to it. Each cable goes to one of the towers. Then the towers move along a train-type track toward the rocket on the trailer. A winch on each tower draws the cable in and the combination of the towers moving parallel toward the rocket and drawing in of the cable causes the rocket to be pulled erect. Once upright, the rocket stands exactly in the center between the two towers. The complete erecting of stage one for the Pathfinder mission to Mars took less than 30 minutes! Then the students moved around the parallel towers to another vantage point. From here they could see this parallel tower structure with the rocket attached move to the actual launch pad and tower approximately 100 feet away. The whole structure moves along the train-type tracks to the martite-covered steel launch pad (and access tower). Martite is a silicon-based substance painted onto the launch pad (about 3/4 inch thick). Martite absorbs the heat of the rocket blast on take-off and keeps the steel from going through enormous stress of expanding and contracting during launch. This was the principal filming opportunity for this group of kids. We then left this site to go to the Cape Canaveral Air Station Air Force Space History Museum. We saw the Mercury Redstone and the Mercury Atlas rockets that put the Mercury astronauts in space. They stood in the place that the launches actually took place. We saw the firing rooms for the Mercury launches. These original firing rooms have windows facing the rocket that are less than 200 feet from the rocket. Today the firing rooms are typically at least 1 and 1/4 miles away. The kids did some play acting in the firing rooms and the day's filming was over. We all had a great time and we look forward to seeing the fruits of our labor on November 19th. October 16, 1996 Seven kids from the McNair Magnet School went to the Kennedy Space Center to participate in some more filming for the "COUNTDOWN" show on November 19th. The day's filming began in a meadow directly across from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The VAB was off limits to us this day because the solid rocket boosters were being mated to the Space Shuttle that day. We did some environmentally sensitive filming for awhile. We saw a bottle-nose dolphin and a 12-foot alligator in the tidal basin. The Kennedy Space Center has more species of birds per square mile than any other location in the world. This place is a birdwatcher's paradise. The kids had enormous fun doing various "extrapolations" and comparisons between the life on Earth and the possibilities of life on Mars. Rick Derman, a film director from New York City, is fantastic with the kids! Then, from the beautiful meadow near the canals, lakes, and basins of KSC we moved out to Space Shuttle Launch Pad 39B. The kids did some filming down in the flame trench of the pad. Huge pipes funnel water down underneath the Shuttle. This is a must-see scene in the upcoming show! Next the kids went to the "crawler," the giant transport vehicle that takes the Space Shuttle out to the launch pad. Another great day of filming! November 7, 1996 Hello from the "COUNTDOWN" kids of McNair Magnet School in Cocoa, FL. We saw the MGS take off today from the VIP viewing area. "Whoa!!!!!," as the kids said. Six middle school kids were filmed for the PTK Nov. 19 show while witnessing the launch of the MGS. We saw the rocket lift off the ground, clear the tower, and then lean over toward the east (radically) and then power off away from us across the Atlantic Ocean. Beautiful!
OUTLINE OF THE TELEVISION PROGRAMGeoff Haines-Stiles
November 8, 1996 Of course the BIG news is that Mars Global Surveyor launched successfully Thursday: we're sure you've seen footage in the news, but what your students may be interested to know is that the first LIVE FROM MARS program (to "launch" November 19) will show some Florida students who made it to the Cape, as the eyes and ears of students across the States. You'll be able to meet some of them on-camera as they give all of us a Kids' Eye tour during the program. To help you as educators set the scene for viewers of the live or taped program, we're sharing the first "rundown" with you today. Soon will come script for the documentary sequences to help you establish an anticipatory "set" for viewing the program. Things are heating up, on and off Earth, and we'll keep fingers crossed for our own successful "launch" in just under 2 weeks! LIVE FROM MARS "COUNTDOWN" Annotated Outline as of 11-5-96 LIVE SITES: Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral (aka KSC) 2 sites: 1) SAEF 2 (a) SAEF 2 (where Pathfinder sits on stage 3 of the rocket) Inside and outside the clean room: CAMILLE MOODY as host: 1 hand- held camera: 1 high remote on scaffolding (b) outside the clean room (seen thru window/glass door): TONY SPEAR, Mars Pathfinder Project Manager 1 hand-held camera 2) close to Pad 17 (from where MGS and MPF launch) WAYNE LEE (no host/ess) 1 tripod camera: NEED STAGE MANAGER TO CUE! INSIDE RAIN COVER = Mission Director Center, with remote cameras trained on pad 17 WORCESTER, MA (former home of Robert H. Goddard) South High School (or TBD) guest = MATT GOLOMBEK host = NEIL TYSON (director, Hayden Planetarium, AMNH) ****************************************************** A. UNDERWRITER ANNOUNCE (00:15) VTR / 00:15 Live from Mars is made possible by the National Science Foundation, NASA and PBS Teacher Resource Services 1.1 TEASE: Mars Global Surveyor countdown and launch (01:45) VTR / 01:30 / CAMILLE v.o. and live as needed 5...4...3...2...1.... the beginning of a new era of Mars Exploration 1.2 CAMILLE voice over scenes at SAEF 2 LIVE / this uses ONLY the remote camera inside the room, NOT CM on camera until 1.5 TONY introduced, with Pathfinder and 3rd stage over shoulder 1.3 NEIL in Worcester, intro kids and MATT LIVE / NEIL throws to WAYNE 1.4 WAYNE @ Pad 17 LIVE / 1.5 CAMILLE THROWS TO OPEN... LIVE / CAMILLE on camera beside TONY 2.0 SHOW OPEN (02:05) VTR / 00:20 SOT 3.0 CAMILLE AND KIDS APPROACH SAEF 2 (02:35) VTR / 00:30 / CAMILLE v.o. walking towards and into SAEF 2... lots of industrial pipes, warning signs, etc. "KEEP OUT!" 4.0 CAMILLE DONS PROTECTIVE GEAR (03:05) VTR / 00:30 / CAMILLE v.o. getting dressed in bunny boots, mask, air-shower, etc 5.0 KID'S EYE TOUR OF KSC (06:05) VTR / 03:00 / CAMILLE bridging v.o. as needed from the classic shot of the VAB, the old Explorer 1 launch pad, the Shuttle flame pits, Pad 17 during the erection of the MPF Delta rocket, etc. Narrated v.o. and on camera by Michael Deane's students from McNair Magnet School 6.0 CAMILLE LIVE IN CLEAN ROOM: CM INTERACTION WITH TONY SPEAR (09:05) VTR / 03:00 CAMILLE (face behind mask) gives live guided tour of the clean room... 10 times cleaner than Viking... positive air flow... spacecraft "ER"... and asks TONY (who's outside) "what's this... that... " and he directs her around CAMILLE throws to VTR: what's all this for? 7.0 WHY MARS? (12:35) VTR / 03:30 / NEIL v.o. the lure and lore of Mars... early telescope views... Lowell and Mars mania... Mariner, Viking results... volcanoes, valleys, channels... the question of water and of life (past, present, future?) 8.1 NEIL AND THE SNC METEORITE: WORCESTER (13:20) LIVE / 00:45 This is a piece of Mars... something like this... ALH 84001, but we don't know quite where it came from... so we have to go back... which is where MATT comes in... 8.2 MATT RESPONDS TO SCIENCE QUESTIONS: WORCESTER (19:20) LIVE & VTR / 06:00 LIVE Q&A Worcester LIVE Q&A from kids at KSC LIVE e-mail questions relayed by kids at KSC VTR pre-taped VIDEO questions 9.0 ROBERT H. GODDARD (21:50) VTR / 02:30 A kid's eye tour of Worcester and how RHG advanced rocketry: student on tape throw to... 10.0 WAYNE AT PAD 17 (22:50) LIVE / 01:00 Behind me is... and it's designed to... 11.0 GETTING TO MARS (24:50) VTR / 03:00 / NEIL v.o. graphics and animation from the MPF and MGS mission films: the specifics of "our" missions... 12.0 WAYNE LEE Q&A (30:50) LIVE & VTR / 06:00 LIVE Q&A Worcester LIVE Q&A from kids at KSC LIVE e-mail questions relayed by kids at KSC VTR pre-taped VIDEO questions 13.0 MGS LAUNCH (31:50) VTR / 02:00 / CAMILLE v.o. this is how it began... scenes from Nov 6 (or soon after!)... GLENN CUNNINGHAM in the Mission Director's seat... kids from McNair watch ng to be like December 2, 1996... and every 26 months for the coming decade! 14.0 DONNA SHIRLEY ON THE FUTURE OF MARS EXPLORATION (33:50) VTR / 02:00 15.0 TONY SPEAR Q&A: KSC SAEF 2 (39:50) LIVE & VTR / 06:00 CAMILLE leads to LIVE Q&A Worcester LIVE Q&A from kids at KSC LIVE e-mail questions relayed by kids at KSC VTR pre-taped VIDEO questions 16.0 PATHFINDER LANDER, ARES VALLIS, SOJOURNER ROVER (41:20) VTR / 01:30 / CAMILLE v.o. 17.0 "FOLLOW THE WATER" (44:20) VTR / 03:00 / NEIL v.o. stream table activity from the LFM Guide brought to life by North High School students from Worcester, showing how water can sculpt the characteristic patterns seen on Mars 18.0 MATT Q&A: WORCESTER (50:20) LIVE & VTR / 06:00 NEIL leads to... LIVE Q&A Worcester LIVE Q&A from kids at KSC LIVE e-mail questions relayed by kids at KSC VTR pre-taped VIDEO questions 19.0 CAMILLE ON P.E.T ACTIVITY, JOURNALS, CHALLENGE QUESTIONS, etc. (51:20) LIVE / GRAPHICS / 01:00 LFM housekeeping 20.0 "BYES" (52:20) LIVE / 01:00 TONY MATT/NEIL WAYNE CAMILLE 21.0 END CREDITS (53:20) VTR / 01:00 B. UNDERWRITER ANNOUNCE (53:35) VTR / 00:15 TRT must equal NO MORE than 59:30!!!
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