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Mars Team Online WebChat

Date: January 15, 199

Featuring: Ken Edgett
Director, Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program
Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer
Team Affiliate
Editor, Mars Underground News, The Planetary Society
Arizona State University, Phoenix


[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 3 - 12:23:37 ]
This Chat room will be the place to chat Thursday, January 15, 9:30-10:30
a.m., PST, with Ken Edgett. Ken is the director of the Arizona Mars K-12
Education Program, a Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer
Team affiliate, and, editor of Mars Underground News, at Arizona State
University. Please be sure to read Ken's bio at
http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/edgett.html before joining us. Until
then, this room will be closed to posting. Join us Thursday!

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 7 - 09:29:12 ]
RE: [Linda/NASAQuest] Hello all, The room is open now, and Ken and I are
here. Sandy was not able to make it so I will sit in as you chat with Ken.
Good Morning, Linda and everyone! There is some NEWS this morning. I have
an update for my Biography. Starting in February 1998 I will be taking a
new job--- working at Maling Space Science Systems in San Diego,
California. This company is running the camera on Mars Global Surveyor,
and is providing cameras for the Mars Surveyor 98 Orbiter and Lander, plus
the 2001 orbiter, lander, and rover (named Athena). As a result of this
move, I will no longer be the director of the Arizona Mars K-12 Education
Program, nor the editor of Mars Underground News. The new editor for Mars
Underground News is Julian Hiscox. The new director for the AZ Mars K-12
is TBD.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 8 - 09:30:59 ]
RE: [Rosalee] What kind of life forms are on Mars?
Life forms on Mars.... no one knows if Mars has any life at all. The 2
Viking landers in the 1970s failed to detect life, nor did they find
organic materials. Pathfinder wasn't designed to look for life, but the
camera data did not find evidence for chlorophyll (as might be found in
green plants).

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 10 - 09:31:51 ]
RE: [Curt] hello Ken, how is things going today?
Curt- things are going fine today. The weather in Tempe, AZ is sunny today
but chilly (i.e., temperature this morning was around 55 degrees F).

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 13 - 09:32:57 ]
RE: [Rosalee] Hello, Hello, Ken are you here?
Hi Rosalee, Ken is here and typing answers. The process just takes a
little time. Do you have another question for him?

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 15 - 09:33:56 ]
RE: [Curt] Are you doing a survey on different types of minerals on the
planet "MARS"?
Curt- Yes, the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter has a spectrometer (TES,
thermal emission spectrometer) that is designed to help determine what
minerals are on Mars. So far, the TES team has only reached consensus on
one mineral class-- pyroxenes. Other minerals that we think we are seeing
are still being debated amongst the team members (this is not an easy
process, to identify minerals on Mars), so we haven't "gone public" with
additional mineral identifications yet

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 19 - 09:39:32 ]
RE: [Jenny] 1.Why did Mars change from a hot, humid planet to a col, dusty
planet? 2.Where did all the water go from the floods? 3.Why does the temp.
on Mars change so fast? 4.What are the rocks on Mars made of? 5.Are
similar rocks on Earth? 6.Do you believe the meteorite found in Antarctica
came from Mars? 7.Is there a special time you and the team have to launch
the space probes?

Jenny- 1. No one knows for sure if Mars ever was a Hot Humid planet. The
evidence is very controversial. 
2. Water from the floods- no one knows where it went. Some might still be
on Mars (sunk underground and frozen at the poles) but most water, over
time, has probably escaped to space. Two ways to escape into space-- be
blasted off the surface my meteor impacts and by removal from the upper
atmosphere by being stripped off the atmosphere by the Solar Wind. 
3. Temp on Mars- not sure what you mean 
4. no one knows. Pathfinder data should have helped, but the results thus
far are very preliminary. Same for MGS TES. 
5. Yes, the rocks on Mars should be similar to Earth. 
6. Yes, the evidence that about 12 meteorites that have been found
on Earth probably came from Mars is very good evidence, esp. some of these
meteorites have trapped bubbles of Mars' atmosphere in them (this
composition is unique to Mars). 7. Yes, with current launch capabilities,
the window to launch to Mars comes up about once every 26 months. The
first wave of launches (MGS, Pathfinder, Mars 96) was in Nov and Dec 1996,
the next will be Dec 98 and Jan 99, then March and April 2001, etc.

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 22 - 09:40:39 ]
Wow! What a lot of questions in one. It might help the chat along if you
send one at a time!

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 23 - 09:40:55 ]
RE: [Josh] What television projects are you working on?
I am working on a pilot childrens science show with a small tv network
(that's all I can say at the moment-- proprietary info).

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 25 - 09:42:44 ]
RE: [KeithfromNanaimo] Hello everyone! We are grade six students from
Nanaimo,Canada. Our first question is:What childrens book have you
Childrens books-- I have in press that wont be out until Fall 1999. Other
books have not been submitted to publishers yet.

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 26 - 09:43:57 ]
RE: [Curt] Ken, has there been any testing done on the air/oxygen levels?
Curt, Can you clarify what you want to know?

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 27 - 09:45:17 ]
RE: [KeithfromNanaimo] How long did the pathfinder last?
Pathfinder lander's battery apparently quit around Sept 27th, about 83
Mars days after the landing. A few radio signals were detected from
Pathfinder in October, but nothing solid enough to regain communication.

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 28 - 09:45:34 ]
RE: [Josh] I have to go to a new class. Is a transcript of this session
Yes, Josh, shortly after we finish I will place the archive online and you
will be able to find it from Ken's bio page

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 31 - 09:46:22 ]
RE: [Linda] How did the volcanos form and did they ever erupt on Mars.
Volanoes on mars erupt like volcanoes do on Earth. Yes, they did erupt
once, but probably are "dead" now. No one knows exactly how long ago the
volcanism stopped- but probably many 100s of millions of years ago.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 32 - 09:46:57 ]
RE: [KeithfromNanaimo] How many active volcanoes are there on Mars?
None of the volcanoes appear to be active today

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 36 - 09:48:27 ]
RE: [Aspen] Has anyone every stepped on Mars?
No one has been to mars. The last humans to even walk on the Moon were in
December 1972-- more than 25 years ago. It's sad, isn't it?

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 40 - 09:51:15 ]
RE: [Joe] Our Prime Meridian goes through Greenwich because of the
observatory there (plus other considerations). What determined where the
Martian prime meridian was placed?
There is a dark (low albedo) region near the mars equator called Sinus
Meridian. From a telescope, it looks like the bowl of a pipe (the "stem"
being Sinus Sabaeus)-- but this pipe has a little triangular dip in it....
this dip was used to mark the Prime Meridian by astronomers in the past
several centuries. After Mariner 9 in 1972, they decided to use a specific
crater called AIRY, which is located in Sinus Meridiani, to define the
prime meridian. Airy is the name of an astronomer who worked at the
Greenwich observatory.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 42 - 09:52:14 ]
RE: [Curt] To clarify on question "air/oxygen"-- is it breathable for
humans or not?
Curt you need an encyclopedia. Air on mars is95% carbon dioxide, some
percents Nitrogen and Argon, and less than 1% is everything else incl.
oxygen and water vapor

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 44 - 09:54:15 ]
RE: [Aspen] Has there been any more investigation into the face on Mars?
There is hope that the MGS camera will be able to shoot a picture of the
"face" butte on mars, but it is very difficult to target this particular
camera. No, to my knowledge no one is currently busy studying the "face".
(Frankly, I don't think the "face" is about science and searching for life
on mars, I think it is about bilking the public out of their hard-earned

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 45 - 09:55:41 ]
RE: [KeithfromNanaimo] In total about how many satellites have orbited M
Good question. Mars has 2 natural satellites (phobos, deimos) but there
have been several US and USSR orbiters. Mariner 9, Mars 2, 3, maybe Mars
4,5 (cant recall if they were orbiters or flybys), Viking 1, 2, Phobos 2,
Mars Global Surveyor.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 46 - 09:57:30 ]
RE: [Linda/NASAQuest] Ken, I've been reading about some discoveries
regarding magnetic fields found by the Global Surveyor. Can you give us
some information on this?
Mars appears to not have a Global magnetic field (based on MGS results).
Instead there appear to be "remnant" fields-- these are magnetic fields
induced in the rocks in the planet's crust-- perhaps induced by a global
field that is now GONE. The Moon is like this, too.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 48 - 09:58:25 ]
RE: [Curt] Ken, please be patient with me, although I am about a year and
some month's older than you, I am not as educated as you are, that is why
I ask stupid questions. Sorry.
Curt don't get me wrong, no question is 'stupid' but some questions seem
like things that you can get from a book or a web search.

[ Kelly/PioneerSchool - 53 - 10:00:34 ]
Hello. I can only stay for a few moments. I'm between classes. So I'll ask
a couple and then leave and read them after my next class

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 54 - 10:01:15 ]
RE: [SarahfromLiegeBelgium] Ken, Congratulations on your move to
California and a new posting. With your change of jobs in February, do you
intend to continue writing children's books about Mars?
Yes, I plan to write children's books in my own time (weekends, evenings).
I should point out my book currently in press is coauthored with Peggy
Wethered, a Kindergarten teacher in Idaho, it it is being illustrated by
Michael Chesworth, an excellent children's book illustrator. It is a story
about going to Mars, for young readers (say ages 3 - 7) and going to be
published by GP Putnams

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 58 - 10:02:20 ]
RE: [Patti] Have you been analyzing the spectrometer results?
I, personally (Ken Edgett) have not had much time to analyze the TES
results. My move to Malin Space Science Systems will allow more time to do
this. I have been busy at ASU with the K-12 work and with a project to
help select landing sites for the 2001 Mars lander/rover.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 61 - 10:03:39 ]
RE: [Kelly/PioneerSchool] Hello. With your job change, will you still be
doing K-12 activities at Malin Space?
At Malin Space, I do not expect to be doing K-12 stuff. There will be some
PUBLIC stuff, like updating the web sites and possible public/media events
for release of pictures. I am taking a break from the K-12 for a while so
I can focus on research.

[ Kelly/PioneerSchool - 63 - 10:04:32 ]
I have to go now, but I'll read the answers later. Thanks so much for your
time Mr. Edgett. You are one of my heroes. Everybody doing Mars work is.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 64 - 10:05:00 ]
RE: [Curt] Please forgive my ignorants, but who first started the
exploration on mars and when?
First telescopes looking at Mars were in the early 1600's. The first
spacecraft to fly by Mars was Mariner 4 in 1965. But the USSR tried to
launch Mars probes as early as 1960, and the dream of launching humans to
Mars has been with us since at least the 1800s

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 66 - 10:06:21 ]
RE: [Kelly/PioneerSchool] Are there other countries besides US/NASA
planning any missions to Mars in the near term?
Yes. Japan is launching "Planet B" to Mars in August 1998. It will stay in
Earth orbit until Dec 98, then head to Mars. European Space Agency is
talking about a mission called Mars Express that would include landers and
an orbiter to launch in 2003. Russian scientists have hopes of doing more
Mars missions, but this is less certain because of budget problems.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 69 - 10:07:04 ]
RE: [Kelly/PioneerSchool] Has it been determined when NASA will do the
sample return mission.
NASA plans to launch the sample return mission in 2005. The spacecraft
would arrive 2006 and the samples reach earth 2008.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 70 - 10:07:56 ]
59-Do you know where the meteor crater is in Arizona?
Meteor Crater is located near Winslow, Arizona. (like in the Eagles
song, 'I was standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona'

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 72 - 10:10:44 ]
RE: [Rosalee/LameDeerSc] What kind of costs are incurred by the Mars
Cost of Mars exploration.... NASA is trying hard to bring the cost down.
Mars Observer, which never reached the planet because it got lost in 1993,
cost about 980 million. This cost included the rocket and it was spread
out over 10 years (so not quite 100 million a year). The new MARS SURVEYOR
PROGRAM strives to launch about 10 missions to Mars between 1996 and 2005,
and the entire program is supposed to be about 100 million a year (so
instead of 1 spacecraft at almost 1 billion dollars, it is 10 spacecraft
at almost 1 billion dollars). This cost per American is less than 50 cents
a year, and 100 million is less than it costs to make most major movies
(e.g., TITANIC movie cost more than Mars Global Surveyor)

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 74 - 10:11:25 ]
RE: [Curt] How long do you think it might be before you will know of other
types/kinds of minerals there are?
Depends on the TES team.... there is disagreement as to what we are seeing
in the data. I suspect it will be several months.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 75 - 10:12:59 ]
RE: [Curt] Has NASA thought about building a space station to make the
travel to mars easier or quicker?
The US is working with Russia, European Space Agency, Canada, and Japan to
build the INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION. The first components will launch
this June and July. The first crew (3 people, to launch from Kazakhstan)
are expected to arrive Jan 1999. The space station will take to at least
2003 to complete.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 76 - 10:14:16 ]

62-- Yes, MGS has been taking TES and MOC (camera) during the aerobrake
mode. The MOLA (laser altimeter) is off at this time because it needs to
be within 800 km of the surface and *looking straight down* in order to
take data.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 78 - 10:17:41 ]
- What are the temperature ranges on Mars?
The coldest would be in winter at one of the poles-- it can get down
around 200 F below zero. the warmest would be near the equator and it can
sometimes be as warm as 60 or 70 F. Pathfinder never saw a temperature
above 32 F, and at night it would always get about 100 F colder than the
daytime high!

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 82 - 10:21:14 ]
RE: [KeithfromNanaimo] We have to go now, but thank you for sharing your
knowledge with us. We have enjoyed it very much. Goodbye from Rick, Keith,
Crystal, and Mike in British Columbia.
Thanks for joining us today!

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 83 - 10:22:16 ]
RE: [Curt] I know that after the first shuttle accident ('85/'86, can't
remember) happened, is there a possibility for civilians to travel to
other planets like mars or the moon?
The shuttle Challenger blew up on Jan. 28, 1986. The next launch after
that was in Sept 1988. Since that time, the shuttles have flown more than
60 missions. But the shuttle is not capable of going out of Earth orbit.
No humans have been to the Moon since 1972. There are private companies
around the world that are working toward the goal of being able to launch
paying, private citizens into ORBIT within the next few years. As for
getting them to the Moon or Mars, that is still farther in the future,
especially since NASA currently has no funded program to send humans to
the Moon or elsewhere (but the earth orbit).

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 84 - 10:23:38 ]
RE: [Aspen/LameDeerSch] What kind of new technology is being developed to
obtain more data from Mars?
Right now, I think the focus is on using existing, proven, cheap
technology. However, there is an experiment going on the 2001 lander that
will try to produce rocket fuel using gasses in the Martian atmosphere. If
successful, this could pave the way for making it cheaper to do sample
return missions and perhaps human missions.

[ Aspen/LameDeerSch - 85 - 10:23:41 ]
Thank you Ken, we received a lot of information today that will help us in
school. Aspen/Rosalee - Lame Deer School, Montana.

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 88 - 10:25:31 ]
RE: [SarahfromLiegeBelgium] Linda and Ken, thank you for sharing so much
with us in such a short time. We'll be watching for Ken's books. My fourth
grade students love reading and writing space stories - they're focusing
on writing realistic fiction for the moment...
You know, I first got interested in MARS exploration because of a writing
assignment in Fourth Grade. Get a copy of the February 1998 issue of NSTA's
SCIENCE AND CHILDREN for details about "Joe the Martian"

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 89 - 10:27:37 ]
I want to thank Ken and all of you for joining us. Keep checking the Mars
website. Perhaps we can talk Ken into joining us again!

[ Curt - 90 - 10:28:33 ]
After the "INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION" is built, do you expect to go
there to further your testing/studies on the planet?

[ Ken/ArizonaStateUniversity - 91 - 10:31:10 ]
RE: [Curt] After the "INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION" is built, do you expect
to go there to further your testing/studies on the planet?
The ISS(space station) will be orbiting EARTH. It is a laboratory mostly
to investigate chemistry, material properties, etc. in a low-gravity
environment. It is a huge international project coordinated by NASA and the
Russian Space Agency. It won't be used for Mars, although there is hope
that some day it could be used to help launch a human Mars mission. The
space station is a good project for the United States to see if it would
WANT to do an international mission to Mars in the future, or if it is
easier to "go it alone" Thanks for your questions!

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 92 - 10:31:17 ]
Goodbye all. Thanks for joining us!


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