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April 17, 2001

Questchat with Joe Kolecki

NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio


[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 49 - 09:58:31 ]
Welcome to the chat room for today's chat with Joe Kolecki.

[ Joseph - 51 - 10:03:10 ]
Welcome to the chat. I am Joe Kolecki of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. My specialty is space and planetary environments with a very strong focus on Mars. My work on the Pathfinder mission has become part of NASA's future planning for robotic missions to Mars. I am delighted to be able to participate with you today. Do you have any questions?

[ Daniela - 52 - 10:03:27 ]
Do you have to do the student's project that we students have to do? We have to try to built an aircraft that can fly on Mars. My task is to find the best wing designs. Could you help me do that? Thank You

[ Joseph - 60 - 10:07:03 ]
The Martian atmosphere is very cold and very 'sparse,' having a density barely 1/100th that at the Earth's surface. Therefore, a wing would have to be very large AND very light. I recommend that you look into a program called "FOILSIM," by going to this URL: www.grc.nasa.gov, and clicking on "Free Software."[

soumen - 53 - 10:03:48 ]
hou are you.

[ brittany/az - 54 - 10:04:22 ]
how many layers of material or on or in a space suit

[ Joseph - 75 - 10:14:05 ]
Brittany, Space suits are very complicated and ingenious engineering designs. The materials employed in their fabrication include Nomex and Kevlar along with a variety of other metals and synthetics. They are designed both to protect the astronaut from the hostile space environment and to maintain internal temperatures within a narrow range for comfort and survival. Should a micrometeor penetrate the suit, the astronaut is in no immediate danger as the multi-layer design provides for capture of the particle before it completely penetrates the suit. Since "small" objects are FAR more prevalent in Earth orbit than "large" object, the suits are designed to withstand hits by small objects. Space suit designs include probability of being hit by objects within a certain size range, along with human comfort and manipulatory considerations. (If the suit is too stiff, the astronauts would not be able to move.)

[ Joan - 56 - 10:05:48 ]
Susan, this is Joan.. This is a test also.

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 57 - 10:05:48 ]
Hi Joan!

[ Joan - 64 - 10:09:16 ]Hi, Susan

Susan/NASAChatHost - 58 - 10:06:38 ]
At the end of the chat please give us some feedback.

[ Joan - 59 - 10:07:03 ]
I teach third grade, and our Virginia Standards of Learning require us to teach our 8 yr. old students about the Moon phases. Could you offer any suggestions about how to do this is a very simple manner so they'll understand?

[[ Joseph - 76 - 10:16:18 ]
Hi, Joan, I have a Power Point presentation on line that deals with the phases of the moon. Please go to www.grc.nasa.gov and hook onto Distance Learning. (I do not remember the URL right now. You may contact me off-line - i.e., later - and I will give you the details.)

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 79 - 10:17:29 ]
Joan, Moon phases are tricky there is an opportunity for confusion. Have you tried Space link? http://spacelink.nasa.gov

[ Joan - 82 - 10:21:19 ]
Susan, I have not tried "spacelink". Would that also give me information regarding how the tides are controlled by the moon? A lot of this is pretty deep for my students.

[ Katie - 65 - 10:09:16 ] hey

[ Katie - 66 - 10:09:16 ]
is anyone up in space now?

[ Joseph - 78 - 10:17:18 ]
Hi, Katie, There are currently three people in Earth orbit on the International Space Station.ILLY -

[ Joan - 71 - 10:11:01 ]
My students have heard that there are "little green men" on Mars. Where did this story originate?

[ Joseph - 83 - 10:22:25 ]
Joan, I don't know WHY the men on Mars are little OR green!!! People have speculated about life in space from prehistory, and will continue to do so long into the future. In the 19th and 20th centuries telescopic observations of Mars showed that Mars had a great deal in common with Earth as pertains to its surface environment. (Today, we are rapidly learning that there are also enormous differences!) Given an earth-like world practically on our back doorstep, in-so-far as cosmic distances are concerned, it was a quick step for imaginative writers to populate it with all sorts of beings - most of whom were hostile to we earthlings (makes for better reading, I guess!). The phrase, "Little green men," DOES have an origin, but I do not recall what it is. A good dictionary of contemporary English phrases (or slang, etc.) would probably give you a specific answer.

[ Joan - 73 - 10:12:43 ]
My son saw a space craft lift off back in early March (around the 9th, I think) when he was in Florida during his Spring vacation. He was thrilled. He took some pictures and posted them on the computer.

[ dmitriy - 77 - 10:16:55 ]
How long does a trip to Mars take?

[ Joseph - 84 - 10:24:09 ]
Hi Dmitriy, A trip to Mars can take as long as a year or as short as a few months depending on the type of spacecraft used, the orbit selected, and the use of rockets to speed things up along the way.

[ Dmitriy - 86 - 10:25:12 ]
Thank you very much.

[ david - 80 - 10:18:01 ]
Would you know why the venture star project was cancelled?

[ Joseph - 121 - 10:54:25 ]
David, No, I don't know about the Venture Star Project. I'd suggest using a search engine and doing a general web search.

[ John - 81 - 10:18:21 ]
November 1998, I attended the regional NCTM (math) conference in Sparks (Reno), Nevada. The concluding session was led by a man from NASA, and Moffett Field. He showed a photo he asked us to identify. It resembled a sand storm. It was a photo sent from the satelitte that had landed on Mars. I am writing from northeastern California. We have a NASA antenna, I believe, located here. I am an emergency substitute teacher and a student a year ago expressed interest in one day traveling to Mars! I am not sure that would be wise. But it is nice to have dreams. I am not sure what to ask. A couple years ago, I read "October Sky."

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 85 - 10:24:13 ]
Well you should definitely try to get Joe’s PowerPoint presentation and I would start any search with spacelink. I am not sure what they have on the moon per say there might also be some good information at the Lunar Surveyor sight.

[ Joseph - 87 - 10:26:07 ]
Hi, Joan, Do you have videoconferencing capability in your school???

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 89 - 10:26:53 ]
Good questions!

[ Joan - 90 - 10:27:58 ]
I'm not sure about the video conferencing. I've never used it, but that doesn't mean we don't have it. Perhaps somewhere in our county has it.

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 91 - 10:29:03 ]
RE: [Joan] Where is the Lunar Prospector sight located? Is it on the Internet, or somewhere else?
Joan, sorry I have my missions mixed up. http://lunar.arc.nasa.gov/

[ Joseph - 92 - 10:29:23 ]
Joan, Try www.gsfc.nasa.gov. This is the NASA Goddard site in Greenbelt Maryland. Goddard ran the Surveyor missions.

[ Joan - 93 - 10:29:53 ]
Thanks, Susan.

[ Samantha - 94 - 10:30:04 ]
What type of engine is best for flight in Mars?

[ Joseph - 123 - 10:56:35 ]
Samantha, Our designs have considered using propeller driven aircraft; but, because the Martian atmosphere is so thin, the propeller (and wings) would have to be enormous compared to the fuselage and payload. A Mars' airplane would look VERY different from the aircraft we are accustomed to seeing here on Earth.

[ John - 95 - 10:30:43 ]
Chat via Internet is slow paced. I read most of 1985 book "Mathematical People" recently, getting as far as Olga Tausky-Todd. I did not progress to Mr. Tucker and other mathematician's brief interview. I am currently reading a biography of subatomic particle physicist Murray Gell-Mann, "Strange Beauty." It was interesting he attended a conference and heard Mr. Racah give a lecture on group theory (math) but it was abstract. About ten years later, Mr. Gell-Mann had need of group theory to explain subatomic interaction behavior, but was inventing it himself having not made the connection group theory could explain subatomic particle behavior.

[ Danielle - 96 - 10:31:05 ]
Which material is best for prolonged flight in Mars?

[ Joan - 97 - 10:31:06 ]
I put off teaching about the moon because I don't know a whole lot about it myself. I don't want to teach something that's wrong.

[ Joseph - 98 - 10:31:17 ]
Joan, Try to find out about videoconferencing equipment. We can set up a v-conference with you, and I can do one or more presentations interactively with your class. Contact Melissa Mongalier at 216-433-5506 to set things up.

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 99 - 10:32:54 ]
John do you have any specific questions about the mars environment for Joe?

[ Joan - 100 - 10:33:28 ]
The Solar System is taught in our fourth grade. The Moon is the only outer space that we teach in third grade.

[ Joan - 101 - 10:35:06 ]
Oh, Joseph, that would be so great!!Boy, I really need someone like you to teach this to my students.

[ Danielle - 102 - 10:37:44 ]
Are they positive that there is no life on Mars?

[ Joseph - 110 - 10:44:21 ]
Danielle, On the contrary: we are becoming more and more hopeful that life once existed on Mars and might still exist there today. Each new discovery lends more and more credibility to this notion!

[ Joan - 103 - 10:37:44 ]
Joseph and Susan, I really appreciate you both for taking the time to "talk" to the general public about your profession and putting up with a whole battery of questions, some of which, like mine, are not on your expertise. It's nice of you to do this.

[ Joseph - 104 - 10:38:21 ]
Danielle, Lightweight plastics would be best for a wing design. Mylar has been one of several materials considered. Check www.ames.nasa.gov, or www.grc.nasa.gov for further info.

[ Shanaina - 105 - 10:39:06 ]

[ Joseph - 106 - 10:40:13 ]
Joan, The lunar phases are not difficult to understand once certain basic ideas are taken in hand. If you wish to talk to me off-line, you may e-mail me at joseph.c.kolecki@grc.nasa.gov and I will send you copies of some of my slides along with explanations. I still think that a v-conference would be best, though...

[ Joan - 107 - 10:42:45 ]
Joseph, I appreciate your offer to help. I'm overwhelmed that someone in your position would be willing to help a teacher with a kind of phobia. I'm not sure what the phobia for the fear of teaching outer space is called, though.

[ Joseph - 108 - 10:43:02 ]
Joan, You pay for this kind of service via your taxes. We owe it to you to answer your questions as best we can. And... please take it from a scientist with 32 and counting in his field, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A 'NON-EXPERTISE' QUESTION!!!!!!!!!

[ Joan - 111 - 10:47:09 ]
Thanks, I am grateful.

[ Joseph - 112 - 10:47:09 ]
Joan, We all have phobias. I tremble in my BOOTS every time I have to stand in front of a group of junior high students. It is just a matter of perspective!

[ Joan - 113 - 10:47:09 ]
By "life" on Mars, do you mean microbial, plant, "human" or what?

[ Joseph - 116 - 10:51:16 ]
Joan, Most likely, microbial

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 114 - 10:49:20 ]
RE: [Samantha] For the Mars plane design project what sort of information should we research and collect?
Hi Samantha, What questions do you need to answer to deign your plan? Look up those topics and see if you can find the answers. Do you understand lift and drag, thrust and weight?

[ Joseph - 115 - 10:50:00 ]
Samantha, You will need to know about the Martian atmosphere and how it varies on a day-to-day time scale, and on a season-to-season time scale. The variations are considerable! You will also have to learn about Martian weather including diurnal winds, dust storms, dust devils, and the like. Finally, you will have to learn about airfoil design, lift, drag, etc., etc. I recommend FoilSim (referenced above) as an ideal tool for this last point. With FoilSim, you can make up a design and test fly it in a nominal Mars' atmosphere!!!

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 117 - 10:52:19 ]
Wow this has been a really great chat, Joe I really appreciate you knowledgeable answers. Please send in you last questions now!

[ Joseph - 118 - 10:52:34 ]
Time is quickly running out. Let's have a couple more wrap-up questions, if you wish, and then I must sign off.....

[ Joan - 121 - 10:55:56 ].
In future explorations of Mars would some kind of machine take "soil" samples to determine life forms?

[ Joseph - 125 - 10:59:47 ]
Joan, YES. NASA has planned a sample return mission to bring back up to several hundred pounds of Martian native surface material for study here at home. Initial contact with this material will be made roboticly on remote flyers associated with ISS, and, when the possibility of contamination (the so-called, "Andromeda Strain Syndrome") is eliminated, the materials would be brought to the surface for examination in laboratories by humans.

[ Joan - 122 - 10:55:56 ]
Thank you both for sharing your knowledge with me. I'll certainly check out the web sites you suggested and, Joe, I'll check on that video conferencing equipment. I'd love to have you "visit" my classroom and share you information. Thanks again. Bye

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 124 - 10:57:09 ]
Thanks Joe and everyone this has been a terrific chat!

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 127 - 11:03:10 ]
RE: [Joseph] Susan, THANKS!!! We had a ball!!!!! Hope to do this again, sometime. Ciao!
Okay we'd love to have you.




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