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Webchat: October 12, 1996
NASA experts: Geoff Briggs (scientist), Mark Adler (Mars mission architect)


Due to technical problems, the first 40 minutes of this chat were not preserved.


Cutlip: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [824 ]
So what is the opionions on the reactions of scientist if life does exsist on
Mars??? 

Lucy/IA/Mars Team Online: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:42AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . .
[826 ]
Mark, I was wondering if the Pathfinder and/or Sojouner are equipped with
probes that will get soil profiles from the Mars surface so it can send back
what's underground?

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:42AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [827 ]
Geoff mentioned drilling a mile down on Mars. As someone who might have to
make something like that actually work, I sincerely hope that we can find places
on Mars where the heat gets much much closer to the surface, allowing
environments where there might be liquid water to be much more accessible by
our robots.

Cutlip: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:42AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [828 ]
I think they wouldn't know how to respondor react!!!

Dave from Kenosha: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:43AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . .
[829 ]
Question for Geoff: A mile deep to find liquid water! That sounds like a difficult
job for a robotic craft. Will humans eventually have to do that kind of
exploration in person?

Chris / GLOBE / East Prairie, MO: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:43AM PDT
(-0700 GMT). . . [830 ]
Have any of you felt any heat from religous groups about the possiblity of life
on other planets? What implications would this have?

Robert: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:43AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [831 ]
Mark Adler--When do you think the first manned mission to Mars will take
place?

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:44AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [832 ]
matt Johnson: Good question about funding. I'm sure Mark Adler can say
more, but please know this...one reason NASA isn't seriously planning
manned missions to Mars is because it is way to expensive. SO MGS and
MPF, in addition to bringing back science, are designed to test new,
technologies. For MGS, it is aerobraking. For MPF, one is the inflatable bag
landing. I believe there are many others for MPF, but I'm not sure what?
Maybe Mark A. can answer further

blake heath - globe -east prairie mo: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:44AM PDT (-0700
GMT). . . [833 ]
Mark Addler, if life is found on mars that is still living how will NASA and
other scientists react?

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:44AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [834 ]
To Lucy: Neither Sojourner nor Pathfinder have any digging capability, except
whatever the wheels of Sojourner do to the ground it has run over. 

Cutlip: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:44AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [835 ]
Well, Matt that might be why we haven't started the expeditions, yet.

Marilyn in Virginia: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:45AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [836 ]
Lucy, I can't remember the PET project!! I am going to do the toolbox activity
and we are engaged in teh S/more project, but for the life of me as I sit here I
can't remember PET. Also would you be able to send me some GIFF pictures
(some day) showing me how you "decorated your classroom." I remember
your description just as school was starting and I was most intrigued.

Geoff Briggs NASA Ames Center for Mars Exploration: . . . . Sat, Oct 12,
11:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [837 ]
There was a question about past mission failures. I think the record of NASA
missions to Mars has been pretty good -- Mariners 4, 6, 7, 9 Vikings 1 and 2 all
worked as planned and were very successful. The Mariner 8 spacecraft
launched in 1971 went into the Atlantic Ocean and Mars Observer apparently
blew up when it tried to go into orbit about Mars in 1993. There is no question
that space missions still are very complex and somewhat risky but the payoff
has been spectacular.

Justin: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [838 ]
Hi folks!!

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [839 ]
But sometimes new technology doesn't work. I heard Donna Shirley (she heads
all of the Mars Explorations) say that the airbags got to be too heavy, so next
time they will use a rocket landing (like Apollo moon landings).

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [840 ]
To Matt Johnson: the money comes from U.S. taxpayers, and for a dozen year
program, yes it does get into the billions of dollars.

KAT: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [841 ]
Anyone - We are leaving the conference now. Goodbye! Thanks for all and
hopefully till next time.

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [842 ]
marilyn: PET is the new name for Toolbox activity

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:48AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [843 ]
Lucy, echoing Marily, if you do get pictures, I'd love to share them on the
Quest MTO site

buck globe: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:49AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [844 ]
Marc would you happen to have any information about the small fossilized life
form that was found in the asteroid and do believe that these life forms can teel
us something about the evolution of Mars as well as the Earth.

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:49AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [845 ]
To Robert: I have no idea when the first manned mission to Mars will take
place. What we need first is a very strong motivation to send people there, for
example that we need people to dig for life. And then that motivation has to be
strong enough to spend the money it will cost, which is in the tens of billions
for one mission. And we'll need the technology in place to make it that cheap! 

Matt Johnson East Prairie GLOBE: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:49AM PDT
(-0700 GMT). . . [846 ]
Mark- Is it actually worth the money? And are any of the canidates going to
reduce the funding?

Marilyn in Virginia: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:50AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [847 ]
re: feeling the heat. As my students and I delve into this project, I am holding
my breath. I teach in a very rural conservative area. In our area we have many
Mennonites which are very similar to the Amish, but perhaps more
conservative. But, I will try to be cognizant of sensitive areas and hope that I
can navigate my way. But I feel so strongly in the positive influences resulting
from our classroom's involvement that I will take the chance.

Lucy/IA/Mars Team Online: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:51AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . .
[848 ]
Mark, You referred the fact that sample would have to be "sterilized" when
returned to Earth. Is that in future misssions of are you planning to send the
Pathfinder/Sojourner back (of which I haven't heard.)

Terry U.K: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:51AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [849 ]
Anyone I lost my Internet connection am I back on line ?

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:51AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [850 ]
To Blake: if we find clear evidence of life on Mars, then the reaction will be to
look at the sky and wonder where else it must be. If life arose independently on
Earth and Mars, then it must be as natural and common as the stars.

Geoff Briggs NASA Ames Center for Mars Exploration: . . . . Sat, Oct 12,
11:51AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [851 ]
Drilling to depths of a mile or so on Mars may well be more challenging than
robots can handle which is one of the reasons why we need to think seriously
about sending astronauts to Mars if we want some important answers in our
lifetime. Perhaps even more important, I think we may need astronauts who are
skilled molecular biologists in order to study the samples we collect from depth
and 1) satisfy ourselves that those sample pose no problems, and 2) learn what
a possible second form of life is like -- how it differs from the terrestrial
DNA-based life .

Justin: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:53AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [852 ]
Do you feel it's likely that if we were to go to Mars we would find more
metroites similar to Alan Hills??

buck globe: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:54AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [853 ]
Brigg would you happen to have any information about the small fossilized life
form that was found in the asteriod and do believe that these life forms can tell
us ssomething about the evolution of Mars as well as the Earth.

Chris / GLOBE / East Prairie, MO: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:54AM PDT
(-0700 GMT). . . [854 ]
Marilyn: I'm glad that you don't shy away from the subject. It is very hard to
balance this when students viewpoints vary as much as they often do in a rural
area like yours and mine.

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:54AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [855 ]
To Matt Johnson: Well I think it's worth the money, but I may be a little biased.
However considering the attention that life on Mars is getting from the press,
I'd say that just the curiosity of the public justifies the relatively small piece of
their income taxes it will take. 

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:54AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [856 ]
Hi Buck: background about the Martian meteorite abounds...see button
Personally, I am an Internet weenie so I'm not really quealified to answer about
evolution of MArs vs. Earth

Justin: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:56AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [857 ]
Actually depending on how much we help we get from other conuntries on a
manned mission we'd end up not having to pay the enormous amount of $ it
would cost if the U.S. were to launch the mission itself. 

Matt Johnson East Prairie GLOBE: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:56AM PDT
(-0700 GMT). . . [858 ]
But do you feel that any of the canidates would actually reduce the Nasa
program if elected?

Jennifer/NASA: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:56AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [859 ]
Just to let you know, the Mars topic will be continuing for another ten mintues,
then we shift topics. So get your final questions in now!

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:56AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [860 ]
marilyn. Is it that life on another planet somehow goes against the Menonite
religious beliefs? Is there room in the religion to say that God also was working
on Martian life concurrrently with Earth life?

blake heath - globe -east prairie mo: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:57AM PDT (-0700
GMT). . . [861 ]
Mark do you think that if other life could exsist than would it be possible for
mankind to evolve and with help from are technology colonies mars ?

Geoff Briggs NASA Ames Center for Mars Exploration: . . . . Sat, Oct 12,
11:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [862 ]
The Allan Hills meteorite ALH84001 appears to come from the ancient cratered
highlands of Mars -- which cover about half the planet. The rock appears to
have been trown out from some depth as a result of a quite big impact. If we
send spacecraft to the highlands and pick up ejecta lying on the surface then it is
very likely that we will find samples like the Antarctic meteorite. It will be
interesting to do just that and even more interesting to send spacecraft to
locations in the highlands where we see evidence that liquid water has been at
work in the past.

Kelly - New Jersey: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [864 ]
Mark Adler, I'd like to know what the current plans are for the next decade.
Which spacecraft/missions are certain, and which ones are still TBD

Dave from Kenosha: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . .
[865 ]
Geoff, Steve, Mark, or Marc:Can real science compete with the science fiction
in the movies and on tv today? Is that even an issue?

Panama Jck: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 11:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [866 ]
hi all, howdy Blake!

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:00PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [868 ]
I'll put in another commercial for Mars Team Online. This free, K-12 project will
be going on now through Dec 1997. In addition to online, it includes live TV
and a printed Teacher's Guide. It will be tracking the issues we've been
discussing here fro the last hour. Please consider joing us at button

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:01PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [870 ]
To Kelly: the only thing really firm right now are our '98 missions, and orbiter
and a lander. Past that we are still working with NASA headquarters on the
detailed plans. I can say though that those plans would likely include rovers and
sample return missions around '03 and '05.

Panama Jck: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:01PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [871 ]
me/ hi all how are ya doing?

Dave from Kenosha: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:02PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . .
[872 ]
Marc: Could the transcript of this chat session be edited and made available on
the Mars Team Online site?

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:02PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [873 ]
Dave, about real science vs. science fixtion. Speaking strictly for myself, I
think real stuff is way more interesting then the sci-fi 

Jennifer/NASA (Chat MC): . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:02PM PDT (-0700
GMT). . . [875 ]
All, we are going to shift gears now! 

Justin: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:02PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [876 ]
Why is ARC so involved in the mars life stuff I thought it was primarialy JSC??

Marilyn in Virginia: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:02PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [877 ]
Marc, that's exactly how I see it. But in my area they are fundamentalists. The
Earth was created in seven days etc. When I first started teaching in the Valley,
I got in BIG TROUBLE by saying that man did not exist when dinosaurs
roamed the Earth. I think the Valley has changed in the last twenty years and
broader opnions are allowed. I have learned how to work with mys tudents
allowing them to have various opinions and interpretations. I do not try to force
my ideas on them. I also do a lot of PR and involve my parents with activities
like Star counts and upcoming PET (how did I miss that piece of information.
Guess I did not read my latest update#4.

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:02PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [878 ]
Dave: CErtainly I will archive this session. Right now in fact 

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:02PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [879 ]
To Dave from Kenosha: we don't try to compete with science fiction. As one of
the great s.f. writers, Arthur C. Clarke said: "The truth, as always, will be far
stranger than fiction."

Jennifer/NASA (Chat MC): . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:02PM PDT (-0700
GMT). . . [880 ]
Thanks so much to the Mars folks who have joined us! Now to begin the next
part of the program, is Tish Krieg, project manager for Women of NASA.

Marc - NASA Ames: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:03PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [881 ]
It is time to wrap up and turn the floor over to the Women of NASA folks

Matt Johnson East Prairie GLOBE: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:03PM PDT
(-0700 GMT). . . [882 ]
Mark did you get my question?

Geoff Briggs NASA Ames Center for Mars Exploration: . . . . Sat, Oct 12,
12:03PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [883 ]
We do not yet know whether the microscopic shapes in the meteorite really are
fossils. They are very tiny indeed. If it turns out that we gain access to martian
fossils in the futrure then they surely will tell us a lot about conditions on Mars
in the past and about what conditions were like on Earth when life evolved here.
If we find evidence of life on Mars it will also imply that life is common
throughout our galaxy.

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:03PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [884 ]
It was fun!

Marilyn in Virginia: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:04PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [885 ]
Amen to Marc's comment. Just seeing my kids' excitement..the real stuff is
even better than science fiction because it involves them and they are a part of
the story!!

Lucy/IA/Mars Team Online: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:04PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . .
[886 ]
Chris, I too live in a small religious conservative community and evolution is
frowned on by some so I figure there are some who believe in Creationism and
might object to my referring to my teaching anything about the formation of the
Universe. I guess I'm concentrating on the real science, real time aspect of the
Mars Team Online project and just that we're exploring Mars, which to me is a
good curious scientific reason for going. Marilyn, PET is the toolbox activity.
What is teh S/more project? Marilyn and Marc, I would be happy to share
pictures of my classroom, but I don't have GIF capability. I could send regular
pictures and you could do whatever you do so they could be added wherever.
You would need to let me know where to send the pictures.

Dave from Kenosha: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:05PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . .
[887 ]
Thanks to Steve, Geoff, Mark, and Marc. Good chat session!

Geoff Briggs NASA Ames Center for Mars Exploration: . . . . Sat, Oct 12,
12:05PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [890 ]
Signing off -- I enjoyed the questions and wish I could type faster and answer
more of them!

Mark Adler, JPL: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:05PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [891 ]
You're welcome.

Lucy/IA/Mars Team Online: . . . . Sat, Oct 12, 12:12PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . .
I enjoyed our chat. Will be in touch via our discuss MTO.




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