PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, supported in part by NASA, NSF and public television, is planning two electronic field trips for the 1996-1997 school year, LIVE FROM MARS and LIVE FROM ANTARCTICA 2.

As with all previous PASSPORT Modules, each "electronic field trip" will offer a fully-integrated combination of:


In 1996, NASA plans to launch 2 missions to Mars. With PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, teachers and students can also travel to the Red Planet!

Mars is a fascinating planet, perhaps the most interesting and mysterious in our solar system:

Was Mars once wetter and warmer? Did rivers flow, and even oceans exist? Did life originate here? Is there possibly life today, hidden down deep in the protected permafrost? Can future missions find and return fossils of any past life to Earth? When and how will humans venture here? What lessons can we learn by comparing Mars with Earth?

In collaboration with NASA's Mars Exploration Directorate at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE is planning 2 live programs for the 1996-97 school year -- from Florida's Cape Canaveral before launch (Nov. 96) and from NASA/JPL during the cruise phase of the mission (April 97), where students will meet the men and women who fly the spacecraft.

Primetime specials for home or science center viewing are targeted for July 4 and 5, 1997, and are designed to celebrate the landing of the Pathfinder spacecraft and its Sojourner micro-rover. Two wrap- up programs in October and November 1997, will incorporate images literally "live from Mars", and tell the story of Sojourner's travels, and the latest discoveries about Martian climate and geology.

Through our collaboration with NASA, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE has unprecedented access to one of the most exciting exploratory missions in many years.

And in addition to alluring images from the Viking and Mariner missions, we'll explore the enduring place of Mars in the human imagination, from H.G. Wells' WAR OF THE WORLDS to Perceval Lowell's ideas about a grand civilization with planet-wide canal systems, to more current science fiction films and literature. As part of the project, students will be exposed to the latest research on robotics, rocketry and spacecraft design.

LIVE FROM MARS has a great subject, exciting locations, proven educational materials, state-of-the-art online opportunities -- all in all, we think it will be one of the most popular PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE projects to date, with equal appeal to elementary, middle and high school students.


Current dates and times for the live programs are as follows, but all viewers should "check local listings" close to air time.

November 19, 1996,
13:00-14:00 Eastern

Behind the scenes at Cape Canaveral: the launch of Mars Global Surveyor: final preparation of the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft. Why go to Mars? the evidence of liquid water and the possibility of life. Past missions -- from first dreams of interplanetary travel to the sophisticated spacecraft of today.

April 24, 1997
13:00-14:00 Eastern

Behind the scenes at NASA's JPL, 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 robots.

July 4 and/or 5, 1997
Final air-time and channel TBD

Pathfinder's arrival at Mars: first images from the Martian surface. Sojourner deploys and returns its first images of the lander. The Planetary Society's PLANETFEST celebrates the last decade of Earth's achievements in exploring the solar system, with a special focus on Mars and the Galileo mission to Jupiter.

October 1997 Highlights of the earlier programs

A re-edited compilation (distributed on tape, not live) of the previous programs, designed to introduce students to Pathfinder's travels, from "launch through landing", in the new school year of 1997-98, and prepare them for...

November 1997

Live weather data and imagery from Mars shows what has been learned to date from the Pathfinder lander and rover: how the continuing data stream provides students with material to analyze in math and computer classes. What Sojourner has revealed, to date, about the actual composition of Martian rocks, and what this implies for the question of liquid water and the possibility of life. A preview of the next decade of exploration.


This electronic field trip to the Palmer Peninsula (that part of the continent across the stormy Drake Passage from Chile) takes place at the time of year when students can see baby seals and penguins still in their birth colonies and rookeries, amid some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

PASSPORT will use NASA's ACTS satellite (the same Advanced Technology Communications Satellite which made LIVE FROM THE STRATOSPHERE possible) to link Palmer and the outside world for the first time by live video. We will also be live, at sea, from a Coast Guard icebreaker, the Research Vessel (R.V.) Polar Duke, observing ongoing marine science in real time.

In addition to marine biology, Palmer is a center for long-term ecological research, and our program will also provide the latest information on issues of global climate change, on the stability of Antarctic ice-shelves and ice-sheets, and the ozone hole. Our tape crew will be on location sufficiently in advance of the live programming to create the same kind of highly visual stories which enlivened LFA 1. This year, the science content will be more focused than during LFA 1, where we dealt with multiple subjects -- geology, weather and astronomy, as well as biology. However we know our animal subject-matter is extremely appealing to younger viewers, with climate change of great interest to older audiences.


Current dates and times for the live programs are as follows, but all viewers should "check local listings" close to air time. (All times are 13:00-14:00 hours Eastern.)

January 23, 1997

Life on board the R.V. Polar Duke... and life in the icy oceans. Live from the R.V. Polar Duke at sea, close to Palmer Station. What it takes to prepare for a productive research trip; how researchers get to Antarctica via Punta Arenas, Chile, and a passage over the stormiest waters on Earth. A close-up look at how researchers study krill and other creatures close to the bottom of the food chain, and how global climate affects all the creatures who live here -- from plankton through whales.

January 30, 1997

Live from a penguin rookery close to Palmer Station. A close- up view of the first weeks of life of a new generation of Adelie penguins, and insights on what makes some thrive, and some not survive. We also travel via Zodiac -- a small inflatable boat which is the primary transportation for the researchers -- to other islands to study the skuas which prey on unhatched penguin eggs. A portrait of Palmer Station, the 40-person research outpost: the sights and sounds that face the dedicated researchers who come here year after year.

February 6, 1997

If Earth were a coal mine, Antarctica would be its canary: how biological and climate studies reveal long-term changes in Earth's environment. Palmer Peninsula is the only place in Antarctica where organisms larger than lichens can exist on land. We see how scientists use tiny greenhouses to study how plant growth relates to changes in Earth's atmosphere, temperature and amount of UltraViolet radiation. We also look at elephant seals and giant whales. This final program shows how research in the Palmer Peninsula, on land and at sea, this season and over many seasons past and to come, provide a unique gage by which to measure what's happening to Antarctica, and to our planet.

[ Mars Conference Home | Agenda | Technical Overview ]

| Passport Home | Search Passport | | Contact Us! | Live from Mars Home |

This NASA K-12 Internet Initiative Web page was last updated on August 6, 1996.