Date: January 29, 1998
Featuring: Mark Adler
Mars Exploration Program Architect
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
[ Linda/NASAQuest - 4 - 10:30:26
]Hello, Mark and I are here for your questions. Sandy was not able to
be here, so I'm visiting for today. Let us hear from you.
[ Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary - 5 - 10:30:51 ]We
are having a difficult time seeing any other messages.
[ Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary - 7 - 10:31:38 ]We
now have you!
[ Mark/JPL - 11 - 10:32:42 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] Hi there Mark. I
was wondering how far do you think a manned mission to Mars is
away?That's very difficult to say. It's dependent entirely on
funding. I would guess the earliest possibility to be
[ Mark/JPL - 13 - 10:33:29 ]RE: [Nelly-students/MontgomeryHigh] What kind of a
space suit would an astronaut have to wear to work in mars?Not
much different from those used on the Moon by Apollo
astronauts, but they would have to be somewhat lighter.
[ Mark/JPL - 14 - 10:34:46 ]RE: [Susi-Susi/ChildrensBookAuthor] Mark, please
describe the features of rover for 2001 mission. That is the next rover
mission, right?The 2001 rover mission will be a little robot
It (he/she?) will examine rocks, pick at them, and take
samples and put them in a box. That box may be returned
several years later to Earth by a sample return mission.
[ Mark/JPL - 18 - 10:35:58 ]RE: [STEPHEN-STEPHEN/PRATTINSTITUTE] Hello Mark,
I would like to know what research has occurred for the physical structure
of human settlements on Mars?There has been work on the use on
local materials for
construction, but that's all I've seen. Human settlement
is, of course, quite a ways off.
[ Mark/JPL - 20 - 10:37:19 ]RE: [Giovannina-students/MontgomeryHigh] Do you think
that there ever were animals on Mars?Maybe. It's more likely
that only single-cell life
made much progress on Mars. Multicellular life on
Earth is a rather recent invention (perhaps 500 million
years ago), but by then, Mars may have become unsuitable
for such life.
[ Mark/JPL - 21 - 10:38:54 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] Also about this
probe already on Mars.... My understanding is that we have lost contact
with it as the planet has moved out of range of our equipment. Will we
be able to regain control when the planet is near us again and will this
cause problems for manned missions with communications?We will
not be able to regain contact with Pathfinder and
Sojourner because we believe that Pathfinder has succumbed
to the extreme cold. Distance is not a problem for a well
designed communication system. We are still talking to Voyager many many
times further than Mars.
[ Mark/JPL - 23 - 10:40:09 ]RE: [Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary] Can
we use nuclear energy for heat on mars? Is solar power possible on Mars?
Could we use it to heat a whole colony?Both are possible on
Mars, but nuclear energy is lighter
and cheaper, and more reliable than solar. Most likely
the first missions will use nuclear power on the surface.
Later solar may augment that.
[ Mark/JPL - 24 - 10:40:41 ]RE: [STEPHEN-STEPHEN/PRATTINSTITUTE] I would just
like to say that a man who puts his dog's picture on his web site deserves
to help humanity into space. Will Carl be heading to Mars when you
go?Not until Carl goes to obedience school. :-)
[ Mark/JPL - 25 - 10:41:14 ]RE: [Nelly-students/MontgomeryHigh] Who will do all
the experiment talked about on the video.I'm sorry--I don't
know what video or what experiment
you're referring to.
[ Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary - 26 - 10:41:44
]Can you give us a high and a low temperature for the surface of Mars?
A newspaper article, during the past two years, mentioned a temperature
surge during a dust storm. Do you have any plans for protecting our
astronauts against these high temperature surges?
[ Mark/JPL - 31 - 10:43:57
]Temperatures around -120F are not uncommon, though during
the day it can get up to around -20F near the equator. The
best protection for humans on Mars from the cold is, of
course, heat. Their suits and habitats will be well
insulated and well heated.
[ Mark/JPL - 32 - 10:45:34 ]RE: [Maria-students/MontgomeryHigh] How many lakes
have been found on Mars?We believe that we have seen many
places on Mars that,
a very long time ago, were lakes for at least a short time.
However today there can be no liquid water on Mars--it is
either ice or it evaporates to vapor due to the low
[ Mark/JPL - 33 - 10:46:41 ]RE: [Susi-Susi/ChildrensBookAuthor] How likely is it,
in NASA's view, that the first human trips to Mars will be funded by
private enterprise? Is the colonization scenario described in the book
"The Case for Mars" credible?Not very likely, since there would
have to be a considerable
payoff to justify the expense. However if launch to low
Earth orbit drops in cost by a factor of about 100, then
such efforts might have a payoff in entertainment or
[ Mark/JPL - 35 - 10:47:51 ]RE: [Vianey-students/MontgomeryHigh] How much did the
Rover cost? Do you think that it is possible to fix the
rover?The Sojourner rover cost about $25 million. We have no
reason to believe that it's broken--we lost communication
with the Pathfinder lander through which we talk to the
rover. So the rover may still be wandering around, waiting
for someone to talk to it.
[ Mark/JPL - 37 - 10:49:23 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] How much do you
work with other countries when planning your missions? I only ask this as
I am in New Zealand and am interested. :o) Just a personal interest
New Zealands space program is non existent but how about Russia and
Japan?I just got back from Europe last week where we were
with the European Space Agency on their 2003 Mars orbiter,
and with the French Space Agency on their offer of a rocket
for our Mars Sample Return mission. We are working with the
Japanese on their 1998 Mars orbiter mission. In other
words, quite a bit.
[ Mark/JPL - 39 - 10:50:44 ]RE: [Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary] Is
there a way to alter Mars' atmosphere so that we can breathe without heavy
and costly spacesuits? Many folk talk about "terraforming"
Mars, which means
somehow making the atmosphere thicker and warmer and maybe
even adding oxygen. These sorts of efforts would take
perhaps centuries to complete, but would be worth it to get
a new inhabitable planet out of it.
[ Mark/JPL - 41 - 10:52:01 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] Who will go to
mars? I mean geologists or specialist occupations or
explorers?That depends on who pays for the trip. Most likely
it will be a science mission, and so would include field
geologists and biologists. But anything is possible, so
there might be a reporter, a poet, a movie director, a
[ Mark/JPL - 43 - 10:53:43 ]RE: [Susi-Susi/ChildrensBookAuthor] What could have
caused the massive floods at the Ares Valles landing site? Polar cap melt?
Earthquake?We think it is caused by massive upwellings from
reservoirs of water under high pressure released perhaps by
meteor impacts or volcanic activity.
[ Mark/JPL - 45 - 10:55:00 ]RE: [Theresa-students/MontgomeryHigh] What is the
most exciting thing about the possibility of going to Mars for you
personally?The possibility of finding evidence and information
ancient life on Mars and gaining therefore a better
understanding of the origin of life on Earth and our
place in the universe.
[ Mark/JPL - 47 - 10:56:04 ]RE: [Susi-Susi/ChildrensBookAuthor] What was the
total end cost of the Mars Pathfinder mission?About $260
[ Mark/JPL - 48 - 10:57:02 ]RE: [Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary] Why
is the Martian soil so red? Also, why is the sky pink?The soil
is reddish because of essentially rust (iron
oxides), and the sky is pink because of suspended red
[ Mark/JPL - 49 - 10:58:10 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] On a documentary I
watched it said just to get to mars you would need a huge amount of fuel
and with a manned mission I presume you would need more for the life
support system. How big would the spaceship have to be to accommodate the
fuel needed and the people on their way to mars?A lot. About
160 tons of stuff would have to be put
into low Earth orbit for a complete mission, including
[ Mark/JPL - 55 - 11:02:45 ]RE: [Susi-Susi/ChildrensBookAuthor] In what form will
the 2001 rover leave rock samples on Mars for later pickup. Core samples
in a container? How will the return mission work?The rover will
take cores of rocks less than an inch
long and about a third of an inch in diameter. It will
take up to 91 such cores, as well as up to 13 cups of
dirts about half that size. They will be kept in an
array of holes in a box. The return mission will land
very nearby and send out its own rover to get the box,
put it on the return rocket which sends the sample on
its way back to Earth.
[ Mark/JPL - 56 - 11:04:25 ]RE: [Theresa-students/MontgomeryHigh] Do we now have
the ability to put 160 tons of stuff into low earth orbit?Not
all at once and not economically enough. We would
develop a new Saturn V-like launch vehicle that could put
up 80 tons at a time in orbit, and we would use three of
those for the mission. I just realize I got the 160 tons
wrongs--it's actually 240 in recent estimates. But we are
trying to get that mass down to make it more affordable.
[ Mark/JPL - 57 - 11:05:12 ]RE: [Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary] We
have heard about the possibility of microscopic life in the soil or the
permafrost. Did Sojourner give us any proof of this?No. What
Sojourner and Pathfinder did do however was give
us very good evidence of liquid water in Mars' past. And
water is a crucial ingredient for life.
[ Mark/JPL - 61 - 11:07:06 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] I'm looking way
into the future here but when a colony does become a reality on the mars
surface, is the soil able to harbor life ie vegetables or will the have
to bring earth dirt :o)Hard to say. We may have to bring some
minerals hard to
find in the Martian dirt, or we may have to genetically
engineer plants that can use the dirt as is. Of course,
the most important thing currently lacking over most of
the planet is water, which must be supplied somehow.
[ Mark/JPL - 63 - 11:07:45 ]RE: [Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary] If a
future colony builds a bubble to encase the colony, what kind of materials
are already present on Mars to build that bubble?Dirt. The
dirt could be processed to make cement and
[ Mark/JPL - 66 - 11:08:47 ]RE: [soledad-students/MontgomeryHigh] HOW MANY YEARS
TAKES TO GO TO MARS?
To get to Mars takes seven to ten months, as well as to
get back. For a round trip you have to stay on Mars about
a year and a half to wait for the return opportunity, so
a round trip is about three years.
[ Mark/JPL - 68 - 11:09:27 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] For life we need
water in 3 forms liquid, gaseous and solid... Did Mars have clouds
once?Mars has clouds now. Some are carbon dioxide ice clouds
and some may be water ice clouds.
[ Mark/JPL - 71 - 11:10:51 ]RE: [Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary] How
would get enough oxygen to Mars to support human life?Oxygen is
not too difficult--it can be extracted out
of the Carbon Dioxide atmosphere. Hydrogen however is
more difficult since it is an ingredient of water and is
usually found in water. Water is relatively scarce on Mars.
[ Mark/JPL - 72 - 11:11:29 ]RE: [CRISTIAN-students/MontgomeryHigh] how many hours
takes to go to mars?Around 6000 hours.
[ Mark/JPL - 73 - 11:12:38 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] If a colony is
built on Mars, where would you build it? On the equator where it is warmer
or nearer to the poles for access to water?Great question. It
depends on what the colony is for.
If science, then we'd go where the good rocks are,
probably not at the poles. If for settlement then we would
go where the resources are, probably to the poles.
[ Linda/NASAQuest - 74 - 11:12:40
[Fay/TaylorElementary-Fay/TaylorElementary] It is lunchtime here
and we are signing off. Bye! Thanks for joining us.
[ Mark/JPL - 76 - 11:14:30 ]RE: [Susi-Susi/ChildrensBookAuthor] Could one derive
fuel from Mars' carbon dioxide rich atmosphere to power colonies? Is there
any evidence of valuable minerals that would be worth mining as a basis of
trade with Earth?Yes, we can extract fuel from the atmophshere,
requires power--it does not create power. Power will likely
come from nuclear reactors. It is incredibly unlikely that
any minerals on Mars would be worth the expense of sending
to Earth. However it will certainly be useful to exploit
local materials to avoid sending them from Earth.
[ Mark/JPL - 77 - 11:15:11 ]RE: [STEPHEN-STEPHEN/PRATTINSTITUTE] I think it can
be inferred from the discussion of low-orbit costs that we are referring
to propulsion based rocketry. Have you folks been willing to entertain a
breakthrough in physics that would reveal how to distort gravity fields
and allow payloads to "fall down" to low earth orbit?That sure
would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.
[ Mark/JPL - 78 - 11:16:16 ]RE: [cristian-students/MontgomeryHigh] some day would
you go to mars?I wouldn't hesitate if I was offered the
[ Linda/NASAQuest - 79 - 11:17:12
]We'll be here just a few more minutes, so if you have more questions,
this is the time to write!
[ Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege - 82 - 11:19:53 ]Too many
questions, too little time!! :o)
[ STEPHEN-STEPHEN/PRATTINSTITUTE - 83 - 11:19:58 ]Live long
and prosper and don't forget the prime directive.
[ Mark/JPL - 86 - 11:21:03 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] What would you be
looking for in the samples sent back from the upcoming return mission to
Mars?Lots of things. We will look for information about the
history Mars in the rocks in terms of water, climate,
volcanic, and impact events. We will look for evidence of
organic molecules, life precursors, and perhaps evidence
of fossil life. And we will simply look and we will find
unexpected things that we weren't looking for.
[ Linda/NASAQuest - 87 - 11:22:00
Thank you so much this has been really great... Pity we didn't have more
time :o(Angela, You still have about 10 minutes if you have
another question or two. Mark's been doing an excellent job of staying up
[ Mark/JPL - 88 - 11:22:06 ]RE: [Susi-Susi/ChildrensBookAuthor] One more question
about sample return mission. Would 2003 mission leave the return rocket,
and 2005 retrieve rocks and put in rocket to send back? Need chronology.
Many thanks for talking to us today!The 2001 and 2003 rover
missions will both collect rocks,
and a 2004 sample return mission will go to one of those
sites (the one with the best rocks) and return that
sample to Earth in 2008.
[ Mark/JPL - 89 - 11:22:44 ]RE: [soledad-students/MontgomeryHigh] have any body
went to mars ?No humans have yet gone to Mars.
[ Mark/JPL - 92 - 11:25:12 ]RE: [cristian-students/MontgomeryHigh] what type of
spaceship have to use to sent people to mars?
A big one. It has to carry all the stuff to land softly
on another planet, to live there for over a year and do
good stuff, to make fuel there for the return trip,
to make the return trip and land back on Earth, and all
the oxygen, water, food, and energy to survive for several
years in unforgiving environments.
[ Mark/JPL - 94 - 11:26:46 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] Is there a way to
melt the poles to get water to the mid planet regions or will it just
freeze again?If water was simply brought to the equator it
would evaporate and go right right back to the poles where it settle out
again as ice. The atmosphere would have to be made thicker somehow before
trying to move water to the equator.
[ Mark/JPL - 95 - 11:27:36 ] RE:[ Susi-Susi/ChildrensBookAuthor -
[Mark, Science magazine article indicates rocks analyzed by Sojourner
were less like mars meteors and more like terrestrial rocks formed by
plate shifts. Mars has no plates, so how can this be?We
don't know. That's why we're still sending spacecraft
there to learn more. Mars is a big planet and quite
complicated, like Earth.
[ Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege - 96 - 11:28:39 ]Thank you so
much for taking time to talk to us today. Hope to do this again soon :o)
It's been real. :o)
[ Mark/JPL - 97 - 11:29:11 ]RE: [Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege] Thank you so much
for taking time to talk to us today. Hope to do this again soon :o) It's
been real. :o)You're welcome.
[ cristian-students/MontgomeryHigh - 98 - 11:29:14 ]how many
miles per hour have to go the spaceship to reach Mars in 10 months?
[ Linda/NASAQuest - 99 - 11:29:45
]I personally want to thank Mark for his time and willingness to
answer our questions. We will hang in here for another minute or two, but
if there are no more questions, we'll say goodbye.
[ STEPHEN-STEPHEN/PRATTINSTITUTE - 101 - 11:30:38 ]Plan on
falling down to Mars. The universe is on your side.
[ Mark/JPL - 102 - 11:30:42 ]RE: [cristian-students/MontgomeryHigh] how many miles
per hour have to go the spaceship to reach Mars in 10 months?It
has to leave Earth at about 26,000 miles per hour.
[ Angela-Angela/RosehillCollege - 103 - 11:31:08 ]Thanks
Linda, thanks Mark. See you in a decade or so when I'm hopefully working
for Nasa or one of it's sister groups :o)
[ Linda/NASAQuest - 104 - 11:32:16
]Thank you all for joining us today. This Chat will be archived and
can be found soon from a link on Mark's bio page.