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To MARS with MER - Interact
LIVE FROM MARS Program 2
Cruising Between the Planets
Live Thursday, April 24, 1997, 13:00-14:00 Eastern
from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Cruising Between the Planets airs just days after one of Mars
Global Surveyor's Trajectory Correction Maneuvers, designed to keep it on
track to the Red Planet. We'll hear updates on both spacecraft and
consider what it takes-in human as well as engineering terms--to keep them
Paralleling the Journals and Biographies to be found on-line,
we'll get "up close and personal" with the men and women who fly the
missions and design the scientific experiments. We'll see the excitement,
long hours and hard work, and hear what keeps them-and their
spacecraft-pumping. We'll provide more information on the scientific
objectives of both missions and also on the high-tech careers which are
JPL is NASA's main center for planetary exploration and the use of
robotics to explore our solar system. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner
rover were built and tested here. We'll look in detail at what Sojourner
is designed to do, and use a "spare" to show how it will test new robotic
technologies for future, larger roving vehicles.
Pathfinder scientists will show us the Mars terrain they've built
as a testbed for the lander and rover. They will use this to simulate
navigation around the Mars landing site and to deal with any mechanical
and engineering problems.
We'll report on MarsWatch '97, a national and international effort
to monitor conditions on Mars with terrestrial telescopes. Dust storms and
other climatic conditions affect the atmosphere through which both
Pathfinder and Surveyor will have to travel in the final stages of their
journey. NASA needs to know how warm or cold or relatively "thicker" or
"thinner" the atmosphere has become in order to make final slight
adjustments to the entry and descent sequences. During Spring '97,
students will be encouraged to work with local amateur or professional
astronomers, and we'll see what they've been up to, on-line and in taped
A taped report will show students engaged in building "Rovers from
Junk" (see Activity 2.3 p. 36). We'll see further applications of Newton's
laws in student-designed balloon and rubber-band rovers, as well as in the
real trajectories taking Surveyor and Pathfinder to Mars.
Questions will come in to the JPL scientists via email
and tape from schools across the country.
We'll see how the
Internet also provides a way to operate model rovers remotely, with
participants in different regions and even different countries controlling
rovers on model Mars terrains thousands of miles away. We'll see how this
hands-on activity parallels the work of NASA's own mission team.