On January 3,1999, a NASA rocket blasted off from the Cape
Canaveral Air Station in Florida. Onboard the rocket were spacecraft destined
for Mars. We brought you live, interactive coverage from the launch site
Mars Launch Online:
remote audience participated in a rocket launch
A series of Mars experts shared their insights about the missions, science,
launch and fun of Mars exploration. The remote cyber-audience asked questions
and shared their thoughts. The following experts participated:
- Geoff Briggs,
Director, Center for Mars Exploration - NASA Ames; NASA's overall plan
for exploring Mars
- Donna Shirley,
Former Manager, Mars Exploration Program; putting together a space mission:
building teams, setting goals, building and flying spacecraft
- Randy Blue, Electronics Engineer for Deep Space 2 - JPL; details about
Deep Space 2, a mission to test technology
- Bruce Jakosky,
Professor of Geology - University of Colorado; the science of studying
Mars: what we hope to learn from these missions
|The launch on January 3 included two different missions:
- Mars Polar Lander
- Deep Space 2
Mars Polar Lander will land on the red planet, much as Mars Pathfinder
did in 1997. But instead of inflating airbags to bounce on the surface
as it lands, Mars Polar Lander will use retro rockets to slow its
descent. Instead of a rover, Mars Polar Lander is equipped with
a robotic arm that will dig into the soil near the planet's south
pole in search of subsurface water.
The lander will also conduct experiments on soil samples acquired
by the robotic arm and dumped into small ovens, where the samples
will be heated to drive off water and carbon dioxide. Surface temperatures,
winds, pressures and amount of dust in the atmosphere will be measured
on a daily basis while a small microphone records the sounds of
wind gusts or mechanical operations onboard the spacecraft.
About 10 minutes before touchdown, the lander will release two
Deep Space 2 microprobes. Once released, these rugged darts will
collect atmospheric data before they crash at about 400 miles per
hour and bury themselves into the Martian surface. The main purpose
of the probes is to flight-test new technologies to enable future
science missions - demonstrating innovative approaches to entering
a planet's atmosphere, surviving a crash-impact and penetrating
below a planet's surface. As a secondary goal, the probes will search
for water ice under Mars' surface.
More information about the missions are available from NASA's web pages:
for teaching about Mars are available.
Archive of the Live Event:
RealVideo clip provided by
Please note that the first few minutes of the archive were lost, so
this clip starts in mid-sentence with Geoff Briggs.
- An archive of the chat room has been provided so you can review
the questions asked during the event.
- Online survey:
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