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To MARS with MER - Interact


Live Tuesday, November 19, 1996, 13:00-14:00 Eastern
Sites: Cape Canaveral, FL, and Worcester, MA

A draft script of this program is available in three parts: part 1, part 2 and part 3.


will take students, live, behind the scenes at Cape Canaveral, launch site for the entire American space program. It will also visit Worcester, Massachusetts, where in the last years of the 19th Century, the young Robert Goddard first dreamt of space flight, and then went on to invent the rockets that would eventually take humans into space and robots to Mars.

"Countdown" will document the final intense hours before launch. We'll see Mars Global Surveyor lift off and the beginning of its 9-month journey. Archival footage and NASA animation provide background: the planning and design of both spacecraft and Mission, what Surveyor is supposed to do, and how its instruments will create the first detailed topographic map of Mars. Pathfinder, the second of the two Mars-bound spaceships, will be in final prep. for a December launch. Live scenes will take viewers as close to the rocket as safety (the spacecraft will be fueled), cleanliness and non- contamination measures allow. Participants in Live From Mars will be among the last humans to see Pathfinder and the Sojourner rover before it leaves Earth. Then on July 4, 1997, they can be among the first to see it "wake up" on Mars.

Students in Massachusetts and Florida will interact with members of the Pathfinder and Surveyor teams, via live 2-way video. E-mail will allow students, anywhere, to participate. Taped questions from schools around America will add other voices and locations. Students will also give their peers a first-person, kids' eye tour of the Cape.

The program will also consider why we should travel to Mars and how Earth and Mars are alike and different. It will review the latest information on Earth's neighbor, including the hot topic of possible life on the Red Planet. Viewers will see how liquid water was almost certainly once present on Mars. Activity 1.3, "Follow the Water", will be demonstrated by students on camera, providing teachers with a model and other students with motivation for their own hands-on work.

"Countdown" will provide the best images of Mars from orbit, while it reviews previous American missions and their achievements. Viking images will show the mighty volcanoes, the great Valles Marineris canyon system, and the channels. Students will see how those channels were once regarded as "Hcanals", fueling speculation about past alien civilizations on Mars. The program will show how students can extend their Martian adventure and stay connected via the Internet. Details of Live From Mars on-line components and its collaborative project, "The Planet Explorer Toolkit," will be provided.