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Mars Team Online WebChat

Date: February 12, 1998

Featuring: Cheick Diarra
Manager, Mars Exploration Program Education and Outreach Office for Pathfinder
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Main Room

last readThu Feb 12 10:02:34 1998

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 17 - 10:02:34 ]
Hello everyone! Welcome to today's Web chat with Dr. Cheick Diarra from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California! In celebration of Black History Month, Cheick will chat about his role as manager of the Mars Exploration Program Education and Public Outreach Office for Mars Pathfinder at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He also manages JPL's Mission Design Team for future Mars missions.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 19 - 10:02:44 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] Why did you chose this occupation?
This was a childhood dream come true. I was fascinated by space since the Apollo days.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 20 - 10:03:35 ]
Cheick will now begin answering your questions. He will begin the first questions posted to the chat room. Thanks for joining us today!

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 21 - 10:03:47 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] What do think about Black history month?
I think it is a good think to celebrate our diversity and to remind us that each of us contribute something to the society.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 25 - 10:06:18 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] Do you have any kids and if so is it difficult to manage work and them?
I have a daughter who is four years old; and it is difficult when I travel for my job.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 28 - 10:07:53 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] How long have you been working on the Mars Exploration Program?
I have been working on the Mars Exploration Program since 1993 when it became a program.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 30 - 10:10:04 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] Do you think that we will have people on Mars by 2020?
I sure hope so. This will depend mainly on the result of the robotic exploration of the red planet. It could be dangerous for Human to be on Mars. But if not, I think we will see the first crew on Mars before 2020.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 34 - 10:11:43 ]
RE: [Julie/ESD101-Julie/ESD101] Cheick, This is Julie from Young Astronauts in Spokane. Hello again! I just wondered how you get a title like interplanetary navigator.
Hello Julie. When you navigate probes from Earth to other planets, then you are an interplanetary navigator.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 36 - 10:13:17 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] What does a mechanical engineer do?
A mechanical engineer can do many things: design systems, build things, specialize in heat transfer, do navigation...

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 37 - 10:14:13 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] What places do you travel to?
I travel in Asia, Europe, Africa, and in the US a lot.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 40 - 10:15:53 ]
RE: [Patti/CJHS] What part do you play in designing future Mars missions.
As a Navigator, I design the strategy to go from Earth to Mars and the results of the strategy determine the size of the tanks for example.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 43 - 10:17:02 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] Personally, do you believe that there is life on Mars?
I personally believe that life started on Mars but was interrupted.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 45 - 10:19:19 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] How many years does it take to get to Mars??
I takes from 7 months to get to Mars. But depending on the mission one can take longer; in order for example to arrive at Mars at slow speeds, one can take 11 months.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 51 - 10:21:43 ]
RE: [Patti/CJHS] When you talk about navigating, is this during "flight" and how do you navigate a vehicle remotely when there is a time delay?
The way one navigates a vehicle with time delay is that the information needed to fire the engine and change the trajectory is computed and stored in the onboard computer memory. The computer then execute the commands at the appropriate time.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 52 - 10:23:39 ]
RE: [Patti/CJHS] I'm interested in knowing what kinds of things you have planned for educational outreach for the Pathfinder.
For the Mars Pathfinder, I organized a lot of town hall meetings, classroom visits, and set up all the mirror sites for our home page to make sure that access is possible timely. we did also workshops for teachers, student competitions...

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 55 - 10:25:56 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] This is a student speaking, I went to Space Camp. Do you think that is a good program for kids who want to become astronauts?
Going to space camp is good because you learn so many neat things there in addition to meeting other people. Our work is all done in teams so the camp offers you the opportunity to learn and develop some of the required attribute needed to be an astronaut

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 62 - 10:30:22 ]
RE: [SecondGradeClass-KarenJ.Massey] Hi! We are in Texas, and this is our lunch time. We would like to ask our group questions. We hope that you will be able to answer them when you can. We will read the whole chat in the archives. Mars Group - "Some of us would like to go into space, do you ever think about going into space?" Jupiter Group - "How long will we be getting information from Galileo?" Sun Group - "We notice that you have lived in Africa, France and the United States. How many languages do you speak? Did you study other languages in second grade?" Thank you for your time today. Bye from Texas:)
Hi I think about how it feels to be in space but I do not think about going there. I barely can handle a plane ride. We will be getting information from Galileo as long as it works and we have funds to pay people to listen to it. I was born in Africa and in addition to my native language, Mangingo, I learned English, French, Russian, and Arabic. but the three first are the ones I speak fluently.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 64 - 10:32:08 ]
RE: [Andrew-Elaine/EncinalSchool] What is the next Mars mission to Mars? What will the purpose of this mission be?
The next missions to Mars will be launched in December 1998 and January 1999. They will help us investigate the climate and the water questions on Mars.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 65 - 10:32:27 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] How old are you Mr. Diarra?
I am 45 years old.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 67 - 10:34:38 ]
RE: [Patti/CJHS] You mentioned workshops for teachers and student competitions. Can you tell us how our school can get involved?
If you call Cathy at our office at JPL, and tell her where you live, she will tell you the Mars related activities going on in your area. As for the student competitions, these are advertised when they come about. Keep in touch with our web site.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 70 - 10:36:29 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] Did you see the Mars' rock that landed on Earth? If so, what discoveries did you make?
I saw the rock but I am not involved in analyzing it. The discoveries for what I understand are not conclusive, This is why we will locate and bring back a sample from Mars soon (2008) for further analysis.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 72 - 10:37:15 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] How long did you attended Howard University?
I attended Howard from 1980 to 1987 for my masters and Ph.D.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 75 - 10:39:50 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] When I went to Space Camp I noticed that there were more boys than girls, in fact half of the groups didn't have any girls at all. Why do you think this happened?
I do not know what specifically happened but I know that in general girls were kept from science and engineering by social misgivings. This is changing and I am glad; I will send my daughter to the camp when she reaches the appropriate age.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 77 - 10:40:55 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] What do you doing during your free time?
During my free time I learn to play my guitar. I also practice my Karate and play with my daughter.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 80 - 10:43:58 ]
RE: [Patti/CJHS] When you say to keep in touch with our web site, the Mars Team Online or the JPL. If it's the latter, could you give us that address?
It can be both; our home page is mirrored or linked to Mars online. You can go to http://jpl.nasa.gov and locate the Mars page.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 83 - 10:44:57 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] Do you know the astronaut, David Chang-Diaz?
I met him on several occasion but I do not think he will remember me.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 85 - 10:47:16 ]
RE: [John-Elaine/EncinalSchool] Hi, I'm from California. Have you been interested in the same job that you are now when you were little.
When I was "little" I did not know specifically the jobs in the pace program but wanted to be part of it in some capacity and it turns out that I became an engineer and a mathematician to do navigation and mission design.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 86 - 10:47:55 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] What type of karate do you take?
I have done both Shotokan and Tae Kwon Do.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 88 - 10:49:48 ]
RE: [Julie/ESD101-Julie/ESD101] Will you be involved in the outreach and navigation programs for the next mars mission?
I am setting up the outreach efforts for the next missions to Mars but I will not be involved in the navigation; instead I am working in the area of mission design for the sample return missions.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 92 - 10:51:40 ]
RE: [MrsWatkinson-Watkinson/SMGMTA] We just joined the chat, but we were wondering if you ever thought about moving back to West Africa and would you ever want to go to Mars?
I will move back to West Africa, God willing to farm. I like farming. I do not think however that I will go to Mars because I will be too old when we are ready to do the human flight.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 93 - 10:52:39 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] When do you think we will start working on the International Space Station?
The first pieces of the station are due in orbit this year and I think things will move then very fast.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 94 - 10:53:27 ]
RE: [Jennifer-Elaine/EncinalSchool] Hi, I am from California. Witch project that you have worked on was your favorite and most exciting?
The most exciting project I worked on was Magellan because it was my first.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 95 - 10:54:57 ]
RE: [Julie/ESD101-Julie/ESD101] We would Love to have you visit again. Thank you for your time. I hope working on a new area of the next mission will be very exciting.
Thank you Julie, I would like to visit again very much.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 97 - 10:55:34 ]
RE: [Patti/CJHS] Thanks Cheick and Oran, This has been fun but I've gotta run. Hope to see you online again soon!
Thank you for joining us Patty. We hope to hear from you again!

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 100 - 10:58:12 ]
RE: [Amanda-Orantes/BlacowElementary] Good I hope they have it done by the time I get to Space. Thank you for the time you took to answer our questions. It was our first experience talking to someone through the Internet. It was great! I think we will do it again.
Amanda, thank you for taking the time to chat with me. It makes feel good to know that you are interested in what we do here.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 104 - 11:05:48 ]
RE: [MrsWatkinson-Watkinson/SMGMTA] What duties did you perform during the Magellan mission to Venus? And what kinds of problems do you run into while working on space stations?
I navigated the Magellan mission to Venus. It was the first time an interplanetary mission was launched from the Shuttle, also it was the first time we went from the cruise trajectory to the mapping orbit directly and finally it was the first mission to try aerobraking. The habit of mind required to work on a planetary team and the fact that most of us on that mission were first timers was great and scary. I will not be working on the station but I anticipate the problems would be that of adapting to space environment and having little space to move about in.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 105 - 11:10:07 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] How long did you attend college before going into your career?
I started college in 1972 in France and went there until 1978 (studied Math, Physics, and mechanics) then I moved to Howard in 1980 where I studied Aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering before doing what I do now.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 106 - 11:12:51 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] What do you enjoy most about working at NASA?
I enjoy the challenges in doing things never done before and doing it in teams where people help one another.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 107 - 11:14:47 ]
RE: [aztecs-students/MontgomeryHigh] We just wanted to inform that there is four of us typing to you today. Their is Vickie, Alicia, Victor, Arlene and another Victor. We are all juniors and we live in the South Bay part of Sunny San Diego. Have you ever been to San Diego?
Thank you for writing. I go to San Diego as often as I can. You have a beautiful city.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 108 - 11:17:53 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] Is it beneficial to speak another language when you work for NASA?
Yes it is. we work a lot with space agencies from other countries; the work and the meetings are conducted in English but it good to be able to read their document in their language and to talk to them in their language, it gives things another dimension.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 109 - 11:19:51 ]
RE: [MrsWatkinson-Watkinson/SMGMTA] What did you teach when you taught for five years?
I was teaching Math, statistics, and dynamics to engineering students.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 110 - 11:24:21 ]
RE: [Kate-Elaine/EncinalSchool] Hi, I'm from Menlo Park, California. What is it like managing a huge spacecraft, which has taken so many people's time and effort? Also, thank you so much for talking with our 5th grade.
It feels great, it is challenging. The systems are so complicated and there are so many of them included in the same spacecraft that one learns to work with other, to depend on them and to trust them.

[ CheickDiarra/JPL - 111 - 11:26:25 ]
RE: [Orantes-Orantes/BlacowElementary] Bye!!
Bye and thank you for giving me the chance to chat with you.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 113 - 11:32:04 ]
Thank you again to everyone for joining us for today's chat with Cheick Diarra from NASA JPL. A very special "thanks" to Cheick for his participation in today's chat. Please check the Mars Team Online chat schedule at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/events/interact.html for upcoming chats with Mars experts. We hope you can join us again!


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