[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 07:39:54 ]
Good Morning! Today's Mars Team Online Web chat with meteorologist Tim
Schofield will start in about 50 minutes. Be sure to read Tim's bio first,
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 08:13:26 ]
A NOTE TO EVERYONE: I am experimenting with some new chat software. The
first mistake I made was to give all of you the same username! So when
you sign on, you'll all be "redplanet"! To help rectify this, please also
type your name in the small box above the chat box that says "Your First
Name." It'll look like this: Sandy/redplanet
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 08:33:07 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] Hi, We're
Sioux Center Middle School 6th grade in Iowa and are looking forward to
meeting and chatting with Tim Scholfield.
Good Morning Sioux Center Middle School 6th grade! Glad you could make
it again :-) The chat with Tim Schofield will begin in just about 5 minutes...
[ Wood/redplanet-redplanet 08:36:22 ]
Hello from Southeast Elementary in Jenks, Ok! We are Mrs. Labbane's and
Mrs. Woods' 4th graders, and we've been participating in Weather Worlds.
We're excited about chatting with Tim Schofield!
[ marske/redplanet-redplanet 08:37:57 ]
Hello to our friends in OK. You might like to know that it is snowing
right now as we chat. Now that's weather!
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 08:43:05 ]
Hello Everyone: Tim is here and typing away at his first answer! Glad
you could all make it :-)
[ Wood/redplanet-redplanet - 16 - 08:43:14 ]
Hello to Mrs. Marske's class in Iowa! Send some snow our way!
[ TimSchofield08:44:13 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] How do you interpret the
weather information that you got from the Pathfinder?
We convert the electronic signals into pressures temperatures and winds.
We then compare these results with other measurements like those from
Viking 20 years ago. Then we try to use models to understand what we are
seeing and explain what is actually going on.
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost08:45:32 ]
Welcome to Mrs. Labbane's and Mrs. Wood's classes! We are very glad you
could make it today!
[ TimSchofield 08:46:15 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] We were wondering if it
snows on Mars?
In the winter CO2 ice (dry ice) freezes out on the poles of Mars. This
is probably more like freezing fog than snow, but it may be as much as
3 feet deep by the end of winter.
[ TimSchofield 08:48:50 ]
RE: [Wood/redplanet-redplanet] If there was water on Mars
in the past, what caused it to evaporate?
There is evidence foe water on Mars in the past, even oceans. It may still
be there in the form of permafrost under the surface and deep ice caps
at the pole. It just can not exist as liquid water anymore because mars
is too cold and its atmosphere is too thin.
[ marske/redplanet-redplanet 08:48:53 ]
Because the atmospheric pressure is so low, would it be possible to fly
aircraft and or helicopters on Mars? If so how?
[ TimSchofield 08:51:20 ]
Yes, but there designs would have to be very light. It is like flying
20 miles up in the atmosphere of the Earth. Designs have been made in
the past for planes and balloons.
[ TimSchofield 08:53:22 ]
RE: [Wood/redplanet-redplanet] Did Pathfinder find any trace
of Viking? Is it possible for any future missions to find traces?
No, we landed about 300 miles away from Viking 1 and on the other side
of the planet from Viking 2. However, Mars Global surveyor, which is orbiting
Mars now. may be able to see them from orbit if it is lucky enough to
fly right over them.
[ TimSchofield 08:55:17 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] We were wondering how you
happened to get involved with JPL when you were originally from England?
How did you get connected with them?
I worked as a research student on a JPL project. My university science
department built part of a JPL experiment that flew to Venus an Pioneer
Venus back in 1978.
[ TimSchofield 08:58:49 ]
RE: [Wood/redplanet-redplanet] Are there clouds on Mars,
and if so, what type are they?
Yes, there are clouds. We see them from Earth using the Hubble telescope,
and Pathfinder saw them at sun rise. They are made of water ice, and look
like the wispy high clouds called cirrus that we see on Earth before a
storm arrives. There are also CO2 ice clouds over the piles in winter.
[ TimSchofield 09:01:27 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] What are you doing with
all the weather data collected from the Pathfinder?
Our first job is to calibrate it properly (Get the temperatures, pressures
and winds right), and then get it out to the scientific community by February,
into what is called the planetary data base. What we have put out so far
on the web is a quick look at the data as we have been collecting it.
[ TimSchofield 09:03:10 ]
RE: [Wood/redplanet-redplanet] Has the new weather data from
Mars changed your current ideas about people living on Mars?
What we saw was similar to the Viking results. Viking showed that Mars
was a pretty nasty place to live, and 20 years later it is still pretty
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 09:06:42 ]
RE: [Megan/DenverElem-redplanet] How does the
83 days worth of weather data collected by ASI/MET compare with the several
years worth of data collected by the Vikings? Have seen major similarities/differences?
Megan: See Tim's answer in #37.
[ TimSchofield 09:08:07 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] If there originally was
liquid water on Mars what do you think caused Mars to get colder and to
lose so much of its atmosphere? Also from "Today on Mars" show we remember
that Mars's atmospheric density has increased as evidenced by the MGS.
Why do you think that is happening?
The increase in density that MGS saw was high in the atmosphere, the density
of the bulk of the atmosphere near the surface has not changed. Weather
causes density to change a lot at high altitudes. Why did Mars get colder
? That is a cood question. One possibility is that there was much more
CO2 in the atmosphere. This could have disolved in the oceans, and reacted
with rocks to form limestone rocks. With less CO2 the atmosphere would
have got colder. Pathfinder hoped to see lime stone rocks, but it did
[ TimSchofield 09:10:16 ]
RE: [Megan/DenverElem-redplanet] ASI/MET sounds like it's
a 2-part thing: an investimgation and an experiment: which is it? What
do the 2 parts do?
Megan, It is two parts. ASI was for measuring the atmosphere as Pathfinder
fell through it, and MET was the surface weather station.
[ TimSchofield 09:12:37 ]
RE: [Wood/redplanet-redplanet] We live in tornado alley -
is it possible to have a tornado alley (or dust devil alley) on Mars?
I'd rather have Earthquakes than Tornadoes. The Mars dust devils are as
big as Tornadoes, and they brobably do have favorite spots. Tornado basins
id probably a better comparison than Tonnado alley though.
[ Megan/DenverElem-redplanet 09:14:17 ]
Ok, now I understand... thanks Dr. Schofield!
[ TimSchofield 09:16:27 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] We were wondering about
your thoughts of whether (not weather) or not we are alone in the universe?
Is there a possiblity of life on Mars as well as other places in the universe?
Could there possibly be weather conditions facorable to any kind of life?
Im sure that there are planets in our galaxy that are habitable, probably
thousands of them. It is possible that primitive life is widespread. However
intelligent life might be very rare and to far away ever to communicate
with. Many scientists think that Mars did have simple life long ago, and
there is evidence for this, although scientists are still arguing about
[ TimSchofield 09:18:39 ]
RE: [Wood/redplanet-redplanet] How much does it cost to fund
a project like this?
Pathfinder cost $M250 including the rocket to launch it. The spacecraft
alone cost $M170. Viking is estimated to have cost $M3000 in today's money
[ TimSchofield 09:21:51 ]
RE: [Megan/DenverElem-redplanet] What are the most similar
characteristics between the weather on Earth and the weather on Mars?
What are the biggest differences ?
The things that are most similar are the days and the seasons which are
very like those on Earth. Mars also get winter storms like those we see
on Earth. What is most different is the thin carbon dioxide atmosphere,
the extreme cold, and the dust storms that can cover the whole planet
in the Southern summer. In fact a very large dust storm started a few
[ TimSchofield 09:23:21 ]
RE: [Wood/redplanet-redplanet] Does Mars have natural resources
similar to Earth's?
It probably does have mineral resources like the Earth's. What it may
be missing is the by-products of life such as coal and oil.
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 09:25:07 ]
MRS MARSKE'S CLASS: If we don't get to answer all of your questions before
you have to leave for lunch, Tim's chat will be archived in the next day
so you can check his answers there. Thanks very much to you and your kids
for participating today :-)
[ TimSchofield 09:26:02 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] We would like to know what
is your biggest responsiblity working for JPL?
Being team leader on the Pathfinder ASI/MET experiment has been my biggest
responsibility. I have not had to get up before television cameras and
talk about my results (with the lab director sitting in the front row)
on any of the other projects I have worked on.
[ TimSchofield 09:27:33 ]
RE: [Wood/redplanet-redplanet] Did Pathfinders take underground
No. The only information it got from below the surface was from pictures
of soil disturbed by the airbags, or the rover wheels.
[ TimSchofield 09:29:37 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] How did you feel when the
Pathfinder and MGS were successful arriving at Mars and at providing information?
We would like to take this time to thank you, Dr. Schofield, for giving
your time to us so we could learn more about you and about Mars's weather.
We will be having to leave for lunch in a few minutes. So this will probably
be our last message.
It was great to be involved in a project that worked and sent back data,
particularly as I had worked for years on Mars Observer which failed miserably.
It been a pleasure talking with you.
[ Wood/redplanet-redplanet 09:29:43 ]
Thank you for your time today, Mr. Schofield. We've learned a lot! Best
wished from Southeast Elementary in Jenks, OK!
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 09:31:10 ]
Goodbye Wood's class! So glad you joined us today!
[ TimSchofield - 65 - 09:31:43 ]
RE: [Megan/DenverElem-redplanet] What percentage
of your time is spent analzying ASI/MET data vs. designing and building
new atmosphere instruments? And, which of these do you enjoy doing the
At the moment, more than half my time is spent on Pathfinder. I like both
looking at data and designing instruments, but it is good to be able to
change from one to the other from time to time.
[ TimSchofield 09:35:09 ]
RE: [Wood/redplanet-redplanet] What was the most surprising
or interesting fact you learned from Pathfinder?
This is always a hard question. From my own instrument things looked fairly
similar to Viking so we were not terribly surprised. We did see temperature
at the surface which were 20 F warmer tan Viking, and we are going to
have to think about that for a while. Also we knew about dust devils,
but we were able to measure them really well with our instruments which
were more sensitive than Viking's.
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 09:35:12 ]
Kevin: We'll answer your question next! Thanks for giving up your lunch
[ TimSchofield 09:38:27 ]
RE: [marske/redplanet-redplanet] One last question from a
truly interested student willing to give up some of his lunch time is:
Do different areas of Mars have a basic climate like FL here on Earth
is generally warm and wet and it is generally cold in Siberia? from Kevin
Yes the climate is different in different regions on Mars, much like the
Earth. The equator is worm (by martian standards, and the poles are very
cold. The seasons are weak near the equator and very strong near the poles
just like on earth. One difference is that Mars has a very eliptical orbit
and gets much closer to the sun at sum times. The southern summer is much
warmer than the northern summer for this reason.
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost 09:41:24 ]
EVERYONE: It's time to let Tim get back to work now as he's busy preparing
a talk for next week's American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
Thanks so much for participating in today's chat! You asked some terrific
questions! And a special thanks to Tim for taking the time to chat with
us! We really appreciate you sharing your knowledge about weather on Mars!
[ TimSchofield 09:41:42 ]
Time is up and my two typing fingers are sore ! Its been great talking
to everybody, and good to see that you are all so interested about Mars.
It is important to remember that we really do not know the answers for
many of the questions you asked, particularly about the ancient history