This material was developed for Live From Mars, a Passport to Knowledge project. Live
From Mars was a precursor to Mars Team Online.
PLANET EXPLORER TOOLKIT
The final consensus
After weeks and weeks of dedicated effort by participating students
and educators, a final PLANET EXPLORER TOOLKIT emerged, which
was determined on the basis of collaborative input shared online.
The following represents THE UNIVERSAL BEST TOOLKIT for all planetary
explorers who embarked on their "mission launch" and exploration.
Like the Mars Pathfinder Mission Team, students had to make tradeoffs
between cost and size, making their final choice of instruments a critical
one that required much discussion. These "all important tools" helped in
uniquely describing local Planetary Sites as students collected data to
share globally with one another and use in follow-up interpretive
P.E.T. TOOLKIT CONTENTS
- Thermometer (Celsius) - for air, ground, water temps
- Anemometer (just like Mars Pathfinder we used a Windsock!) -
determined wind speed (using
Beaufort's scale for wind speed) and wind vane
and compass for wind direction.* (*See below for more details.)
- Disposable Camera (color/24 images - for capturing images of the site
- Ten-power Magnifying lens -- for close up views
- Compass -- used for determining direction of winds and
plotting data collection site
- Topographical map of site -- for interpretation of
terrain, assisting in data collection plotting, etc.
- Metric Tape - measurements, used for showing scale in
- Protractor, 0.5M string, and weight -- for determining latitude via
- Zip lock bags, film containers, and airtight containers --
for "sample collection" of soil, rock, vegetation, water, etc.
- Dissecting kit -- replaced Swiss Army Knife
- Small rock hammer -- assisted in collecting rock samples, digging
for soil sample, etc.
- Pencils (mechanical), small notebook, permanent felt markers,
and specimen labels (may use masking tape), graph paper --
for recording observations, creating plot map of site
noting locations of samples, labeling samples
- Core sampler -- small section of plastic piping for collecting
- Gloves -- for use by sample collectors to prevent contamination
KEY LOGISTICAL INFORMATION:
Wind speed was measured with an instrument called an anemometer but
we used a wind sock and Beaufort's scale.
It was important to measure wind speed in an open area, as nearby
buildings and narrow alleys could have significantly change the speed of
the wind -- Bernoulli's Principle at work. If winds were gusty, an
average of several readings taken over the course of a few minutes were
Wind direction was measured with a wind vane. Students determined the wind
direction by tying a lightweight streamer to the end of a long pole and
used a compass to note North, South, East and West, and intermediate
degrees. They held the pole up in the air at the center of the "compass rose." The
direction of the wind was opposite to the direction in which the tail of the
streamer is pointing. As with wind speed, measurements of wind direction
were made in an open area away from nearby tall obstacles which could have
greatly influenced the local direction of the wind.
- Sample Collection: Classes submitted information
describing the soil, water, rocks, plants, trees, animals (birds,
insects, etc.) native to their site. They did not bring
guide books along but had recording instruments (pencil,
notebook, etc.) and collection tools to gather samples. A 50-ml water
sample was collected (for those with water on site) and classes
had the water tested for pH, hardness and iron.
Students conducted these tests within their classrooms or utilized
a water-testing service. Soil was analyzed for composition using
the method suggested by Eileen Bendixsen who referred us to this
- Latitude/Longitude: All classes reported their latitude/longitude in degrees
N or S of the equator and degrees E or W of the prime meridian.
- Classes reported descriptive information including terrain, biome, indigenous plant
and animal life, etc..
We would like to thank Dr. Sanjay Limaye, Dr. David Mittman, and
Dr. Peter Smith, who served as our guest experts throughout the
DESIGN PHASE of the P.E.T. Their insights and suggestions have broadened
our perspectives and our understanding of mission planning and the
challenges that real mission planners face. We would also like to
thank Eileen Bendixsen and Mike Reynolds again for their assistance
with budget analysis and data submission form construction! All
deserve a HUGE PAT-ON-THE-BACK for your dedication, critical thinking,
and contributions online during the DESIGN PHASE! :-) Thanks to ALL!
The Live From Mars broadcast on April 24, 1997 called "Cruising Between
the Planets" featured the Planet Explorer Toolkit.