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Program 3: The Jupiter Mission

LIVE: October 12, 1995, 14:30-17:00 Eastern

This live program will join the KAO in flight, somewhere over Florida or the Gulf of Mexico. The Kuiper will have left NASA Ames that morning, to be on station for observations of Jupiter and its moons, which can be studied even during the daytime. Live video uplinks will include the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta, Georgia, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Booneville Middle School in Mississippi and Kalani High School in Hawaii. Each site will feature live on-camera interactions with the astronomers, crew, teacher and student on board the KAO, demonstrations of hands-on activities relating to the KAO mission, and on-line collaborations over the Internet with the other live sites. The Air and Space Museum, for example, will use paper airplanes to show some of the aeronautical principles involved in flying the KAO in the stratosphere. Students around the country will record data on Jupiter and its moons, track the KAO and plot its path, and see the human dimension of research.

The KAO will land in Houston, at Ellington Air Force Base, just before 17:00 Eastern.

Please note the date (and see Rowan-Robinson's poem, Cosmic Landscape, page 3): "This Columbus Day, discover a whole new Universe."

The Jupiter Mission

Student Learning Objectives

This unit prepares students to gather data from what they see and hear during the electronic field trip. After completing these activities, students will be able to

  • explain what it means to digitize data
  • describe the characteristics of data from the KAO's infrared detector and what it reveals
  • appreciate Jupiter and its moons as a miniature solar system and the characteristics of the largest planet in the solar system
  • locate Jupiter's moons on either side of the planet and predict which moon will be brightest in infrared wavelengths

Summary These activities are designed to accompany the KAO daytime observing mission. Working with these activity pages, students can make predictions about what the KAO will observe and record observations as they are relayed from the plane. activity 3A shows students how images are digitally created, and how large images are built up from a composite of smaller images. Through this activity students are introduced to the different apparent sizes of the varied objects being observed. Activities 3B and 3C prepare students to make observations of Jupiter and its moons.

When things go wrong...

Editor's note: this is why we have a Contingency Announcement.

Juan Rivera--Airborne Telescope Operator

Off the ground at 06:55 Z (Ed. note: "Zulu" or aeronautical time = U.T.)

On board tonight we have a total of 13 people: 3 Flight Crew, 5 Scientists, 1 Mission Director, 2 Computer Operators, 1 Tracker Operator, 1 Telescope Operator (Me)

07:09 Z We're passing through 26,000 feet already. I've shut off the flow of liquid nitrogen which is used to pre-cool the telescope cavity. We do this for several reasons: First of all the nitrogen boils off to a very cold, dry gas which displaces the moist air in the cavity. We want the atmosphere in there to be free of any water vapor so it won't fog up the optics and freeze there. Also, we cool the cavity with a huge portable air conditioner and the liquid nitrogen so that it will be cold when we open the aperture door and expose the optics to the ambient temperature at altitude. The mirror started out...Oops...Gotta run!!!

07:49 Z Hmm... Well I spent the last 20 minutes or so attempting to repair a problem with our oscillating secondary mirror. It has been very unreliable lately. Tonight when I turned it on, it blew the main fuse in one of the power supplies that power it. All I could really do in flight was to re-seat all the circuit boards and hope that the problem was being caused by an intermittent connection. Last time this happened I was a hero because I was able to save the mission.

This time I was not so lucky. We are now headed back home and the mission has been aborted. Last time this happened I found two wires that had been pulled out of the back of a connector on the rear of the chassis. The only problem was that neither wire had anything to do with the problem! It was like trying to find out why your car wouldn't start and finding a loose wire that went to the tail lights. It's nice that I found it, but... Anyway, by the time the two broken wires were fixed the problem had...mysteriously gone away. It's very very difficult to fix a problem that won't stay bad. We call those "intermittents". Maybe this time the OSM will stay bad. We call that "inoperative", or "inop" for short.

08:09 Z Time to bag this and secure all the loose equipment and prepare for landing. More next time...

 
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