Header Bar Graphic
Astronaut ImageArchives HeaderBoy Image
Spacer

TabHomepage ButtonWhat is NASA Quest ButtonSpacerCalendar of Events ButtonWhat is an Event ButtonHow do I Participate Button
SpacerBios and Journals ButtonSpacerPics, Flicks and Facts ButtonArchived Events ButtonQ and A ButtonNews Button
SpacerEducators and Parents ButtonSpacer
Highlight Graphic
Sitemap ButtonSearch ButtonContact Button

 

Mars Team Online WebChat

Date: December 3, 1996

Featuring: Dave Mittman
Flight Engineer on the Mars Pathfinder Project
Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 8:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [11 ] Good Morning All and welcome to yet another "Mars Team Online" WebChat. Our guest this morning is David Mittman. David is a flight engineer on the Mars Pathfinder project. David's areas of specialization are in planning the spacecraft's activities and in sending commands to the spacecraft. These two areas are known as mission planning and flight control. David works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Mike/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 8:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [12 ] How can you be sure that the Mars Pathfinder will land in the correct position?

Megan: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 8:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [13 ] Hi! Looks like I'm on time.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 8:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [14 ] **It's important to remember that there is only ONE David Mittman and that it will take him some amount of time to type in his answers to your questions. He will definitely try to answer everyone's questions. Your patience will be appreciated :-)

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 8:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [15 ] Good morning, everyone. I'm glad I could join you this morning.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 8:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [16 ] Hi Megan. Glad you could join us again!

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:00AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [17 ] Good question Mike!

Megan: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:00AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [18 ] What would happen if for some reason you wouldn't be able to send commands to MPF? Would it still work?

William/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [19 ] Will any of the major television networks cover the landing of Pathfinder?

5th grade/Morris: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [20 ] How long do you expect the batteries on the rover to last?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [21 ] Mike: The Mars Pathfinder Navigation team has worked very hard to ensure that we will land as close as possible to our intended location. Unfortunatenly, we can't predict the Martian atmosphere exactly, and we may be a little ways off. We predict that we will land in an area that is about 70 kilometers by 150 kilometers.

Marqeita/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:02AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [22 ] Have you actually gotten to drive the rover?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [23 ] A couple of things will happen if we aren't able to send commands to the spacecraft. There is a timer on board that watches commands as they are received, and if a command hasn't been received in a while, the spacecraft will assume that something is wrong, and start trying to fix things.

Micah/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [24 ] Do you know of any future missions to Mars after the Pathfinder? If so,what is one?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:04AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [25 ] William: Yes, the major networks will definitely be covering the landing of Pathfinder. In addition, PBS will be running a segment called "Touchdown!" on July 4 and/or 5, 1997, showing the Pathfinder's first images of the Martian surface

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:04AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [26 ] William: We're hoping that *all* the television networks cover the landing!

Nate/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:05AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [27 ] How long do the batteries in the Mars Pathfinder last?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [28 ] Marqeita: I've never gotten to drive the actual rover that will be landing on Mars, but I've had a chance to drive a demonstration model that is similar to Sojourner. I've also had a chance to see Sojourner moving across a simulated Martian terrain.

Christi/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [29 ] What would happen if the pathfinder got lost in a storm?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [30 ] Micah: There are missions to Mars planned for every 18 mos. for the next 10 years. One of those is the Mars Together Project. This 1998 unmanned mission to Mars will be the first flight traveling to Mars that will incorporate large spacecraft elements from participants around the world. This flight will save costs while providing an international Mars journey. There are flights to Mars, which are under the direction of the US or Russia, where another country has added an experiment or instrument, but in these cases they are combining mission elements traditionally controlled by a single country.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [31 ] The Mars Together program will involve an international orbiter, including one similar to the Mars 96 orbiter and the Mars Global Surveyor. A Russian Rover, Lavochkin, will be carried on the 1998 flight. Attached to it will be a McDonnell Douglass manipulator arm and a JPL mini-rover. A French low-altitude balloon system will be sent to the surface with the rovers. German and Italian science instruments were proposed.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [32 ] Micah: NASA plans to launch a mission to Mars every 24 months. We pick 24 months because that is how often Earth and Mars are lined up properly to allow a launch. The next mission will be Mars 98 which will place a lander near the north pole of Mars.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:08AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [33 ] Micah: Oops, listen to David, he's the expert!

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [34 ] David: I heard that the "Mars Pathfinder launch was delayed one more day today, December 3, because of a synch error with a console in the blockhouse." What does this mean?

Mike S./CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [35 ] whwt is the reach of communicationsarea before you would lose the comunication comunication.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [36 ] Nate: The batteries on the Lander are recharcheable, and are expected to last through the first 30 sols (martian days) on Mars. The batteries on the Rover are not rechargeable and are expected to last quite a bit longer than 30 sols. Both the Lander snd Rover can continue to operate on solar power after their batteries are exhausted.

5th grade/Morris: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [37 ] How many flight engineers are actually involved in the MPF mission?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [38 ] Sandy: I could always be wrong! ;-)

Megan: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [39 ] If the MPF still couldn't recieve commands, does it have a program in it that it can follow? Or would it not be able to function if it didn't recieve any commands?

Mike S./CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [40 ] What is the reach of communications area before you would lose the communication with the pathfinder?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [41 ] Sandy: The Launch yesterday was delayed because two computers couldn't agree on the condition of the rocket. When this occurs, there is a requirement that states that the launch procedure has to be restarted, or recycled, back to a certain point. Because we must launch within a two-minute time window, there was no time to recycle, and the launch was scrubbed for the day.

Adam/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [42 ] What would scientists do if Sojourner flipped over, and is there any way to flip it back over again if it does?

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [43 ] What kind of materials were used to withstand the drastic temperature changes on Mars??

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [44 ] kotoski/Spring Harbor-Good morning Dave, Spring Harbor is on line

Katie/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [45 ] How long did it take to get the pathfinder finished?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [46 ] Mike S.: There are actually two communicatins links to be concerned with. The first is between Earth and Mars (I'm not sure of the distance), and the second is between the Lander and Rover. The Rover can go about 500 meters from the Lander before communicatins would get too garbled.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [47 ] Welcome Spring Harbor!

motorcycle/mills elm.: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [48 ] How can the Pathfinder find out about the atmosphere on Mars?

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [49 ] Jaime B- Spring Harbor

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [50 ] Silvie/Spring Harbor

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [51 ] Jenny/Spring Harbor Dave:What made you

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [52 ] There is core set of about 16 Flight Engineers who have been trained in a wide variety of tasks related to operating the spacecraft. In addition, there are engineers who specialize in specific areas like Power, Thermal (temperature control), the Flight Computer, communications, etc. Overall, I'd guess that 50 or so engineers are directly involved, with many others helping to keep other parts of the system operating correctly.

Mike/Spring Harbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [53 ] What kind of camera do you use on the mars pathfinder?

cowboy/mills elm.: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [54 ] What time will the MPF launch tomorrow and will the networks be covering it?

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [55 ] Jaime- spring harbor HOW SMART IS THE LAND ROVER

Megan: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [56 ] This is a question from Mark S.(Who couldn't make it): How long does it take take to plan a single Mars mission?

John Bayne: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:18AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [57 ] David, I've heard that when the Pathfinder Rover finds a suitable rock on Mars, it will latch onto it and perform tests for 10 hours! (If I'm right) What kind of tests will it perform and why does it take so long?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:18AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [58 ] Hi Jaime, Silvie and Jenny! Jenny, please reask your question as it didn't all appear.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:18AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [59 ] Megan: It depends on when we lose the ability to command the spacecraft. If we lose "commanability" right after launch, we'll never be able to correct the spacecraft's flight path, and we'll miss Mars completely. If we lose commandability while on the surface, both the Lander and Rover will eventually activate a series of stored commands which should get us most of the science information that we were expecting to receive.

Kristy/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [60 ] How many pictures is Pathfinder's memory limited to hold? Can the people who take the pictures delete a picture out of Pathfinder's memory for that spot to be restored?

Rebekah/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [61 ] How did your studies in psychology help equip you for your particular job concerning the Pathfinder?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [62 ] Jaime: Please turn off your CAPS LOCK button. When you type in all CAPS it means that you are yelling :-) Thanks!

motorcycle/mills elm.: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [63 ] Can you make the launch so kids would not have to get up early just to see it launch off?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [64 ] Adam: If sojourner gets flipped over, there is not way to get it back upright again. It has onboard "smarts" which tell it to stop moving if it senses that it is tipping too far.

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [65 ] Jenny/Spring Harbor Dave:What made you become a "FLIGHT ENGINEER?"

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [66 ] Sara: I'm going to pass for now on the materials question. If you email the question to me at dmittman@jpl.nasa.gov I'll forward it to the rover folks and lander folks to answer.

Jabari/Spring: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [67 ] What kind of martian conditions can the pathfinder handle?

Mike/Spring: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [68 ] why was the launch delayed ([:?

Noah/Spring Harbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [69 ] how long can the pathfinder go with out recharging?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [70 ] Katie: The Pathfinder project has been in existence for about three years. The actual hardware hasn't taken that long to build, however.

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [71 ] Shelley/Spring Harbor When is the Pathfinder scheduled to take off now?

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [72 ] jaime Spring horbor sorry

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [73 ] jessica/spring harbor/ will future robots(sorjourners) be able to find an exsistence on life on mars?

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [74 ] Tina/Spring Harbor How long have you been researching Mars?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [75 ] Mike/Spring: Scroll back to message 41 for the answer to your question :-)

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [76 ] Shelley/Spring Harbor When is the Pathfinder scheduled to take off now?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [77 ] Jaime: No problem! Thanks :-)

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [78 ] The Pathfinder Lander has temperature and pressure sensors on board, as well as wind sensors. These instruments together are referred to as the ASI/MET system. Pathfinder will be telling us the martian temperature every day, and we hope to post Martian weather reports daily on the Web.

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [79 ] Dave, how fast will the pathfinder travel through space??

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [80 ] Shelley/Spring Harbor: the next launch opportunity is early tomorrow morning, December 4 at 1:58 am EST (10:58 pm PST). The weather forecast for tomorrow evening is good, and once more we expect to launch!

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [81 ]

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [82 ] Shelley/Spring Harbor When is the Pathfinder scheduled to take off now?

Greg/mills elm.: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [83 ] How long did it take you to plan out Pathfinder?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [84 ] For Everyone: Be sure to visit the Mars Pathfinder Web page at: button

Jabari/Spring: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [85 ] What would you do if you sighted an alien on the mars pathfinder?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [86 ] Mike: The Mars Pathfinder Lander has a stereo color camera on board that sits at a height of about six feet. It should give good color stereo pictures for us to see. The rover Sojourner has three cameras on board: two in front and one in back. The rear rover camera is a kind of color camera while the front cameras are black and white. The front cameras are designed to provide stereo information to the rover computer.

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [87 ] What is the liklihood that any Earth vehicle, past or present, could intoduce bacteria or other lifeforms to the Martian environment.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [88 ] The Mars Pathfinder Team will be operating a chat session on Launch Day beginning 10:00 pm PST (1:00 am EST)! Members of the Mars Pathfinder team will answer your questions about the mission and Mars in general. The URL will be posted on Launch Day- 1... For a Project Status Report by telephone, please call 1-800-391-6654 and follow the instructions.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [89 ] cowboy: The Mars Pathfinder launch will take place at 10:58 PM PST and I hope that it will be carried live by at least CNN.

David/SpringHarbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [90 ] How much does this mission cost?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [91 ] To the person who wrote this question, please type your name in the box marked "Your Handle" so that we know who you are and where you are from! Thanks :-) : . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [87 ] What is the liklihood that any Earth vehicle, past or present, could intoduce bacteria or other lifeforms to the Martian environment.

Christi/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [92 ] what inspired you to become a flight engineer on the pathfinder .

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [93 ] What is the liklihood that any Earth vehicle, past or present, could intoduce bacteria or other lifeforms to the Martian environment.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [94 ] Jaime: I wouldn't necessarily call the rover "smart". It does have the ability to "see" rocks and obstacles in its surroundings and avoid them. Compared to humans, the rover is pretty simple-minded. Compared to other spacecraft that have flown in outer-space, the Rover is pretty darn clever!

Mike/Spring Harbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:29AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [95 ] Can the pathfinder ditect a life form?

David/SpringHarbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:29AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [96 ] Sorry, I forgot to put my Handle in.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [97 ] Thanks David/Spring Harbor!

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [98 ] Jaime - spring harbor what materials is it made of ( the rover)

Kristy/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [99 ] From earth, is it possible to "fix" the Pathfinder while it is in orbit or on Mars?

cowboy/mills elm.: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [100 ] How do you feel now that the Pathfinder is about to launch? I am so excited I can't stand it! My students think I have freaked out!

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [101 ] Jenny/Spring Harbor When did you first decide to become a "Flight Engineer?

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [102 ] jessica/spring harbor/what will happen if the pathfinder breaks down?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [103 ] Yes David, Christi and I both want to know what made you decide to become a flight engineer?

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [104 ] Dave, how much does the pathfinder weigh on Earth?? How much does it weigh on Mars??

Mike/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [105 ] What program do you use to communicate with the Pathfinder?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [106 ] John Bayne: First, thanks for signing on. At 3AM you must be a real space buff! Were you participating in the WebChat around the time of the last launch opportunity? Second, the experiment you are referring to is the Elemental Composition of Rocks and Soil which is conducted, in part, by the APXS, or Alpha-Proton X-Ray Spectrometer on board the Rover. The APXS bombards a piece of rock or patch of soil with "alpha" particles and watches what kind of stuff bounces back. It takes about 10 hours for enough protons, alpha particles, and x-rays to bounce back before the scientists can say what's in the rock or soil they're testing.

5th grade/Morris: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:33AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [107 ] The computer we are using has 8 megs of RAM. How much RAM is onboard the Pathfinder?

Mike/Spring Harbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:33AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [108 ] Can the pathfinder ditect a life form?

Katie/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [109 ] What is your favorite part of working with the pathfinder?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [110 ] Kristy: Pathfinder will be takig over 1,000 pictures on the first day. We could never transmit that many pictures back to Earth during the first month. We take so many because we want to fill up our memory in case the camera breaks. After the first day, we delete a bunch of those pictures because we won't actually need them once we're sure the camera works on the second day on the surface.

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [111 ] What is the liklihood that any Earth vehicle, past or present, could intoduce bacteria or other lifeforms to the Martian environment.

motorcycle/mills elm.: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [112 ] Does it take a lot of hard work and a lot of money to build everything that NASA and JPL are sending to go to Mars?

William/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [113 ] How long will it take for messages to be relayed from the Pathfinder to Earth?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [114 ] Rebekah: I'm probably the only psychology student on the engineering staff! I consider my psychology training to be a symptom of my desire not to get too buried in the specifics of the engineering world...not to concentrate on any one particular area of study.

Mike/Spring Harbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [115 ] Can the pathfinder ditect a life form?

ADAM/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:37AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [116 ] Why didn't scientists install a spring-loaded mechanism that would flip the Sojourner back over if it does flip?

ADAM/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:37AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [117 ] Why didn't scientists install a spring-loaded mechanism that would flip the Sojourner back over if it does flip?

Marty Brown (Charlottesvile, VA): . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:37AM PDT (- 0700 GMT). . . [118 ] (I wrote that question - a little confused about the)interface..."

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:37AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [119 ] Dave, what is the likelyhood that any Earth vehicle, past or present, could introduce bacteria or other lifeforms to the Martian environment??

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:37AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [120 ] motorcycle: I'd love to be able to change the time of launch! If I could do that, then I could make sure that it never rains during parade days, or snows when you want to go to the beach. Unfortunately, the launch time is decided by the positions of the planets...:-(

Kristin/mills elm.: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:38AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [121 ] Is there a instrument to measure the composition of the atmosphere ?

Mr. McCollum/CJHS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:38AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [122 ] Sandy & David, Thanks so much! End of class period at this end - hope to join you next time. CJHS signing off.

Ryan/SpringHarbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [123 ] With all these delays is the Pathfinder still going land on Mars July 4th?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [124 ] Jenny: I was actually a bit surprised when they asked me to be a member of the flight engineering team. I joined the project to develop the software to help plan the spacecraft's activities. What happened is that those people who worked on the project the longest and who had the most general knowledge of how the spacecraft worked were asked to be flight engineers.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:40AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [125 ] EVERYONE: You are sending in TONS of GREAT questions! However, there's a bit of a backlog. Please hold off sending in any questions for the next 5 minutes so David can get caught up. His fingers are gettings cramps! thanks :-)

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [126 ] Ryan: Yes, with all of these delays Pathfinder is still going to land on Mars on July 4!

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [127 ] Jabari: Mars Pathfinder's computer will see temperatures of between -40C and 40C. The temperatures outside the lander can get quite a bit colder.

5th grade/Morris: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [128 ] Will the MGS or the MPF take pictures of any of the current vehicles left on Mars - either U.S. or Russian? (Viking etc.)

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:42AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [129 ] Noah: The Mars Pathfinder lander needs to recharge its battery every day. Remember, it uses its battery to keep itself warm every night. The rover does not have rechargeable batters.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:42AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [130 ] 5th grade/Morris: No, neither MGS or MPF will be in the regions of previous spacecraft on Mars to take pictures of them.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:44AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [131 ] Jessica: The engineers at NASA are working now to design spacecraft which will be able to help answer the life on Mars question. The most promising mission would be one that would actually pick up samples of different kinds of rocks and return them to Earth for analysis. This is called a Sample REturn mission.

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:44AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [132 ] Q from Mark S.: How long does it take to plan a single Mars Mission?

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:45AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [133 ] Dsb

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:45AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [134 ] Tina: I'm not actually a Mars researcher. Although the engineers who built the spacecraft know alot about the conditions on Mars, we rely on the scientists to do what you are calling "research". The spacecraft is really a way for the scientists to get more information about Mars.

Megan: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [135 ] Oops, sorry, that last q from Mark S. was from me.

Eric/springharbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [136 ] Why will the rover still land on mars on July 4, 1997?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [137 ] Sara: I'm not sure exactly how fast Pathfinder will travel through interplanetary space, but I do know that when the spacecraft "hits" the martian atmosphere, it will be going about 17,100 miles per hour!

caroline/spring harbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [138 ] When is the next shuttle going up that is having people abord? In what year?

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [139 ] Jenny/Spring Harbor Thanks for answering my question!!! Once the path finder mission is over will you stay with NASA? Or will you find some other job untill they will send another pathfinder???

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [140 ] Jabari: If I sighted an alien on Mars, through the Lander cameras, I'd probably faint!

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [141 ] Shelley/Spring Harbor What kinds of courses did you take in school to become a Flight Engineer?

caroline/spring harbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:48AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [142 ] When is the next shuttle going up that is having people abord? In what year?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:48AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [143 ] caroline/spring harbor: I think you mean when is the next "spacecraft" going to have people onboard, is that right? NASA hopes to land humans on Mars by the year 2015.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:49AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [144 ] I think is highly unlikely that bacteria or spores could survive and increase in numbers on Mars. We do know, however, that bacteria and spores are more hardy than first thought.

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:49AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [145 ] Silvie/Spring Harbor/ Was this job your childhood dream

Ryan/SpringHarbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:50AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [146 ] How long did you have to study to be a Flight Engineer

5th grade/Morris: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:50AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [147 ] Why did they decide to use the balloon landing instead of landing as the Viking craft did?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:51AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [148 ] EVERYONE: David is having so much fun answering your questions that he has agreed to stay on the chat for an extra 15 minutes (until 10:15 a.m. PST). If you can hold up on your questions for the next 5 minutes or so, David will try very hard to get caught up. His goal is to answer all the questions that have come in so far. Thanks :-)

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:52AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [149 ] David: The development cost for the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft was about $171 million dollars (in 1994 dollars). This doesn't include the rocket used to launch the spacecraft. Compare that figure to the $915 million dollars that the Viking missions cost in 1970. Today, Viking would cost over $3 billion dollars!

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:53AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [150 ] Shetland/spring harbor/ what is your e-mail address? i would like to talk more about your idea of what can be done in the future on mars?

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:53AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [151 ] Sarah/Spring Harbor What kind of landing did the Viking have?

mikeb/spring harbor: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:54AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [152 ] did you always enjoy doing this kind of stuff as a kid

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:54AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [153 ] Mike: The Mars Pathfinder will not be able to detect life on Mars. It will be able to tell us about the rocks on Mars and if they are similar to the meteorite which landed on Earth containing evidence of life.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:54AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [154 ] Shetland: If you click on David's name in the text of this chat, it will take you to his email.

Marty Brown/Charlottesville: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:54AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [155 ] What kind of microprocessors are being used as the brains of the rover? Common off-the-shelf or custom? Also, where can the public get information on the programming of the rover? Is the source available, explainable?

Megan: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:55AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [156 ] I have to go in a couple minutes and I was wondering if you could answer my last q? It was a q from Mark S.: How long did it take to plan a Mars Mission?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:55AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [157 ] Sarah/Spring Harbor: The Viking Lander used rocket thrusters to land on Mars.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:56AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [158 ] Kristy: There are certain problems with the spacecraft which can be fixed from Earth, but not many. Making a spacecraft that has lots of fixable parts is very expensive. Early on we decided that building a less-expensive spacecraft (and having money to build more later) is better than a single very expensive spacecraft. It's the principle of not putting all our eggs in one basket.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:56AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [159 ] cowboy: I remember visiting JPL during the Voyager flyby's of Jupiter, etc., and being terribly excited. Waiting for Mars Pathfinder to launch is even more exciting!

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:57AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [160 ] Megan: If David doesn't get your question answsered before you have to go, he will get to it this morning and you can check the archive of this chat for the answer. Thanks for joining us again!

Megan: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [161 ] O.K., thanks!

Megan: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [162 ] O.K., thanks! Bye!

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [163 ] Sara: The lander weighs about 900 kilograms at launch, and 370 kilograms at landing. Gravity on Mars is 38% that on Earth, so the Lander would seem to weigh about 1/3 of its weight on Mars as compared to Earth.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [164 ] 5th grade/Morris: The Mars Pathfinder flight computer has 128 megabytes of RAM.

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:00AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [165 ] william/spring harbor- what would happen if the mars lander thing with the rover landed wrong?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:00AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [166 ] Katie: Right now my favorite part of working on Mars Pathfinder is "talking" to all of you! What I really enjoy day-to-day is the huge number of new things I get to learn and do each day.

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [167 ] Brandon/Spring Harbor How much do your tool for the land rover cost

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [168 ] Brandon/Spring Harbor How much do your tool for the land rover cost

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [169 ] Brandon/Spring Harbor How much do your tool for the land rover cost

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:02AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [170 ] motorcycle: It takes a lot of time and work to develop spacecraft. That's why it costs a lot of money.

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [172 ] Dave, old buddy, you rocket scientist, you, does Mars have resources that might support humans??

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [173 ] William: The signals sent between earth and mars when we're on the surface take about 11 minutes to get to their destination. This 11 minute figure is the one-way light time. Radio waves travel at the speed of light.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:04AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [174 ] ADAM: There is no spring on the back of the Rover because we don't ever expect it to land on its back. We don't have the money to plan for every single thing that could go wrong. We do a lot of analysis into what is most-likely to go wrong and try to keep those things from happening.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [175 ] Kristin: We will be looking at the dust and water vapor in the atmosphere, as well as some other characteristcs using the stereo camera on the lander. The camera is equiped with special filters which let us look at the sun and sky in different wavelengths of light.

Marty Brown/Charlottesville: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [176 ] It's 11 light-minutes to Mars?!?

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [177 ] william/spring harbor- what if the trasmitter was busted then what would happen to the mission and all the money that went into it?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [178 ] Ryan: I think that the answer to your question is that as we delay launch, earth and mars are moving closer together so that even though we're launching later, it'll take less time to get there. Also, it simplifies planning if we know within a few minutes when we're going to land on Mars.

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [179 ] Dave, do you prefer to be called Dave or David, anyhow, how many years did you go to college and what college did you go to??

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [180 ] Brandon/Spring Harbor- Is there a possibility of the air bags causing the Pathfinder not to open?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:08AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [181 ] 5th grade/Morris: Unfortunately, we won't be landing close enough to any of the previous landing sites to take pictures of any existing US or Russian craft.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [182 ] Mars missions can take about 3-4 years from initial planning stages to actual launch. This is about half as long as it took us to plan mission a couple of decades ago.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [183 ] Sara/SHMS: Read David's bio for more info: button

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [184 ] Kotoski/Spring Harbor-Thanks, Dave ...Sandy!!! Great chat everybody!!! Spring Harbor signing off

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [185 ] Dave, I can't believe that you expect a manned Mars mission by 2015, I thought that it wouldn't be happening until after I'm dead, I can't wait to actually witness a man possibly walking on Mars, it's amazing!!

John Bayne: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [186 ] Just wondering, how versatile is Pathfinder. eg. If the Pathfinder team were told right now that it was critical Pathfinder went to one of Mars' moons instead, without delaying the launch, would Pathfinder stand a chance?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [187 ] EVERYONE: David is willing to hang in there for another 10 minutes. He's still playing catch up with a few remaining questions of yours, so hang in there. Answers to your questions are coming!

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [188 ] Goodbye Spring Harbor! Thank you very much for joining us! Hope to "see" you again next week on either Tues. or Wed. for the 6th Mars Team Online chat.

: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [189 ] Sara: (Sorry for the delay). I graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:18AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [190 ] Brandon: We were concerned about the air bags, too. A lot of testing went into the air bag systems, and we are confident that the airbags can be retacted, or pulled back in, enough to allow the petals to open fully.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [191 ] John Bayne: Mars Pathfinder is highly customized for Mars and its landing site. It wouldn't stand a chance on one of Mars' moons.

5th grade/Morris: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [192 ] Thanks Sandy and Dave. We loved it!!!!!!!!

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [193 ] Everyone: I'm back online after a browser crash, and I think I've caught up with question #191.

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [194 ] Dave, we're skipping class just to ask you questions. We really appreciate your patience and answers.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [195 ] 5th grade/Morris: Thank you so much for participating today! I'm so happy to hear that you had such a good time :-) We hope to "see" you next week, either Tues. or Wed., for the next Live From Mars chat.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [196 ] Sara: Thanks for your questions. Actually, I'm skipping work to answer them...shh, don't tell anyone. ;-)

Marty Brown/Charlottesville: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [197 ] Processors

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [198 ] Sandy: Are you aware of any questions that I might have not answered?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [199 ] Sara/SHMS: I can't believe that your teachers are allowing you to skip class in order to ask David questions! Tell your teachers 'THANK YOU FROM NASA!!!" We really appreciate them letting you participate!

Marty Brown/Charlottesville: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [200 ] #151?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [201 ] David: I'm checking...

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [202 ] Dave, does Mars have recourses that might support humans???

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [203 ] If I said that I had caught up to question #151, I meant #191. Sorry.

Marty Brown/Charlottesville: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [204 ] no hang on...

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [205 ] David: How about #155: Marty Brown/Charlottesville: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 9:54AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [155 ] What kind of microprocessors are being used as the brains of the rover? Common off-the-shelf or custom? Also, where can the public get information on the programming of the rover? Is the source available, explainable?

Marty Brown/Charlottesville: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [206 ] What kind of microprocessors are being used as the brains of the rover? Common off-the-shelf or custom? Also, where can the public get information on the programming of the rover? Is the source available, explainable?

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [207 ] Sara: There has been research done which shows that Mars might be "modified" to support human habitation, but this "terraforming" is not a proven technology. There *is* water on Mars, in the form of ice, at the poles.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [208 ] Shetland: My email address is mittman@jpl.nasa.gov

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [209 ] EVERYONE: David really has to sign off now and go to work! He's answering your questions from home this morning! Check the WebChat archive in a day or so for a complete archive of this chat and answers to your questions. THANKS David for participating today! We really appreciate your answering all of our questions!

Sara/SHMS: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [210 ] Dave, you are the man. My teacher is making me get off now so thanks a lot. Later, Sara and Charlie. Our E=mail adress is Dave_Wray@wssd.ridleysd.k12.pa.us

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [211 ] Sarah: Viking was a "soft" lander which came down to the Martian surface using a heat shield and parachute like Pathfinder, but Viking's final touchdown used an "active" controlled rocket system to rather gently touch down on the surface.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [212 ] mikeb: I've enjoyed computers and computer programming for a very long time. Unfortunatey, I had to give up my photography hobby.

John Bayne: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [213 ] Thanks heaps, David - this chat has been ludicrously fantastic.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [214 ] Marty Brown: The Rover uses a 80C85 processor that has a speed rating of 100,000 instructions per second...slow by today's standards. It has 512K RAM. The rover's source code is not publicly available, but the technology that went into it is based upon (I believe) the work of Rodney Brooks. Email me at dmittman@jpl.nasa.gov and I'll forward your message to the rover team.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [215 ] Good Nite John: Please join us again next week, either Tues. or Wed.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [216 ] Even if the Lander lands updside down to begin with, it can open its petals in the proper order to ensure that it rights itself.

David Mittman/NASA: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:33AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [217 ] Okay, that's it for me. Thanks, everyone, for the fantastic questions! Signing off...

John Bayne: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [218 ] Will do Sandy! Another thing - is there going to be a webchat here or anywhere else you know of for the Pathfinder launch?

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Tue, Dec 3, 10:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . [219 ] Goodbye David! Thank you very much for such a full hour and a half of information! We look forward to talking with you again in the future! Thanks to everyone who participated today. Join us again next week, Tues. or Wed., for another "Mars Team Online" WebChat :-)


BACK
 
Spacer        

Footer Bar Graphic
SpacerSpace IconAerospace IconAstrobiology IconWomen of NASA IconSpacer
Footer Info