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Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the developer, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.


Saturday, May 1, 2004
15:00-16:00 Eastern

Program Description
"Mission success" for the SPIRIT rover came on April 5, 2004, with operation on Mars for "90 sols", as a martian day is known. Success for its twin, OPPORTUNITY, will arrive in late April, 90 sols after its landing on January 25. But, already, the two rovers have succeeded in revolutionizing our understanding of Mars, and their achievements have energized the entire American space program.

OPPORTUNITY has analyzed bedrock in great detail with a powerful suite of science instruments and proven its landing site in Meridiani Planum was once the shore of a salty ocean. SPIRIT has also found evidence of water in Gusev Crater, believed to have once been an ancient lake. Both rovers have demonstrated NASA's technological capability to build, launch, land and successfully operate rovers on a planet millions of miles away, and were cited in the Bush Administration's new space exploration initiative to the "Moon, Mars and Beyond."

Now, in a program originating live at the St. Louis Science Center, key mission scientists and engineers explain the findings, present some of the amazing pictures, and look to the future. Bill Nye hosts NEW VIEWS with guests:

  • ORLANDO FIGUEROA, head of NASA's Solar System Exploration division
  • MATT GOLOMBEK, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who helped select the two landing sites
  • SHONTE WRIGHT, a thermal engineer responsible for keeping the rovers warm and alive on Mars
  • RANDALL LINDEMANN, lead engineer for the rovers' mobility systems, and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis
  • ZOE LEARNER, a member of the dynamic, young science team, though still a grad. student at Cornell
  • ERIC DE JONG, an imaging specialist from JPL, whose lab. helps create the 3-D landscapes and animations that make Mars seem so real, and
  • DAVE LAVERY, an expert on robotics at NASA HQ, responsible for present and future technologies enabling the exploration of the solar system.

The program originates in the Science Center's McDonnell Planetarium with a live audience of youngsters, teachers and informal science educators from St. Louis and around the nation, and includes several dynamic video sequences including the latest and best images from Mars.

NEW VIEWS will...

...explore the evidence for water, and relate the findings to the question of whether Mars was once a habitable environment
...describe the "Marscapes" encountered to date, and use animations to travel along with SPIRIT and OPPORTUNITY en route to Bonneville Crater and Endurance Crater
...explain how the robots' systems have enabled them to survive on Mars, and how their package of scientific instruments have helped them function as "robotic field geologists", and how this rover mission relates to future orbiters, landers and still more powerful rovers being readied to visit Mars in the coming decade.

NEW VIEWS and the ongoing "To Mars with MER" series are made possible, in part, by NSF and NASA, and other public and private partners.

ON-AIR, which operates during and for one hour after each "To MARS with MER" broadcast, allows anyone, anywhere to send questions to researchers studying Mars and working on the Mars Exploration Rovers mission, and to get back individual answers in real-time on the day of the broadcasts. We've also provided some tips for how to make the most of this unique learning opportunity.

How to use ON-AIR
When the ON-AIR function is activated, usually one or two days before the live broadcast, this is what you do.

Click on this link, which will take you to a webpage. From the drop down menu, select the topic that best fits the topic of your question. For "To MARS with MER" that might be "Water on Mars", or "The Mars Exploration Rovers", or "Careers in space science."

In the blank message box, type in what you want to know.

Add your name - first name only - since the people answering your question like to address your answer directly to you. Before you do this check your school policy to see if it requires students to only use initials, first names only, or no name at all.

Be sure to enter your e-mail address, otherwise there's no way you're going to get an answer. Or, if you're submitting the question from school and do not have an individual e-mail address, enter your TEACHER's e-mail address. Be sure to ask him/her in advance.

Click on SEND/SUBMIT and sit back and wait for your individual answer, right back from one of the researchers and/or engineers working on the Mars Exploration Rovers mission!

Video Streaming
The "To MARS with MER" programs are also accessible as streaming video over the web, courtesy of NASA's Classroom of the Future. Soon after the broadcasts, the programs are also archived. Check back to this site, about 15 minutes in advance of each live broadcast, to link in to the video stream. (Many other sites also stream NASA-TV: we suggest you verify the working of your hardware and software in advance, especially if you plan to screen the program with groups of additional viewers.)

How to Access Video Streaming
To watch the broadcast via video streaming you first need to make sure that you have the video streaming software on your computer. You can test to see if you have the software on your computer by going to and click on the NASA Headquarters link under NASA sites. If you have the software installed and a version which will allow you to watch the broadcast via RealPlayer a small window should open up and you should see whatever is currently on NASA TV loading.

If you do not have the software or your version is not working you need to download and install a copy of the software on your computer. There is a free version (not just the free trial) of the software available at You will find the link to download the software in the upper right hand corner.

On the day of the broadcast right before the program is scheduled to air visit our site and click on the video streaming link to view the webcast.

URL Post
To find out more about the people, places and processes you'll see in the videos, use URL POST which provides links to additional resources, directly related to the program. This allows you to combine the immediacy and drama of broadcast video with the depth of additional information available online.

NEW VIEWS was made possible in part by NSF, the National Science Foundation, and by NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.