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Mars Team Online WebChat

Date: March 19, 1997

Featuring: Pieter Kallemeyn
Navigation Team Leader, Pathfinder
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA


Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Good Morning Everyone! Welcome to another "Mars Team Online" WebChat! Our Mars expert today is Pieter Kallemeyn from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Pieter is the Navigation Team leader for the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft. He and two other navigators are responsible for determining where the 900-kg Pathfinder is in this huge solar system of ours, predicting where it will go in the near future, and determining how to correct Pathfinder's course so that it reaches the surface of Mars.

Welcome Pieter!

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Hello everyone!

5th grade/Morris: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:08AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Has a TCM been preformed on the Pathfinder, and if so how did it go?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Morris: Yes we've performed two TCMs (Trajectory correction maneuvers). The first was on Jan 10th and it was 30 meters per second. The second was on Feb. 4th, and it was 1.5 meters per second. Both went very well. Our next maneuver is May 5th.

Lee/Berkwood: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT) What kind of engine does pathfinder have?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Lee, to your question... Pathfinder uses a liquid propulsion system on 8 thrusters, each have 1 pound of thrust. The fuel is called monomethalhydrazine.

Megan/ James Bean: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT) What state did you live in when you were a child?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Megan.... I was born in California, raised in Colorado, and currently I live and work in California (Pasadena, to be specific)

Lee/Berkwood: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT) How far is pathfinder from mars?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Pathfinder is currently 47.7 million kilometers from Earth (or 29.6 million miles). From Mars, Pathfinder is 65.4 million km, or 40.7 million miles. We use the metric system in the navigation business, so I calculate the distances first in metic (km) and then convert to English units for you guys.

Morgan Easler: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT) How long have you worked for NASA?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Morgan, I've worked at the Jet Propulsion Lab for more than 8 years.

Jamie- Bean School: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Have you everr had any other jobss?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Jamie, Yes, I worked for awhile at the University of Colorado as a spacecraft control specialist. Before that, I worked at a pizza hutt, earning money for college.

: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT) How long have you been a navorgator?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT) To whomever wrote about how long I've been a navigator....about 8 and a half years. First on the Galileo mission, and now on Pathfinder.

Bean school/Ben: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Do you fly aircraft?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Ben, I fly model aircraft onthe weekends, but not real airplanes. I let the pilots do that.

nick-BEAN SCHOOL: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT) if it was any planet wich is the most interesting one to you

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Nick, I guess my favorite planet is Mars, because it is the next logical step for a manned mission. Plus, I'm a little biased ;). My next favorite planet is Earth, because it is a very exciting place.

Lee/Berkwood: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT) What do you do everyday?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:18AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Lee, I use a compter to predict where the spacecraft is going to be once it gets near Mars. We measure its progress by looking at data collected by stations here on Earth. There are also meetings with the rest of the flight team, discussing the current status and future plans for the mission. Then, of course, there's an hour for lunch ;)

5th grade/Morris: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT) How many liters of fuel are on board the Mars pathfinder?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT) 5th grade/Morris, I don't know how many liters we have, but we loaded over 95 kilograms of fuel. We've used about 20 kg. so far.

Isaac,Bean School: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT) what did you want to be when you were a kid?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Issac: When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut or jet pilot. Later when I was going to school at the University of Colorado, I found the field of spacecraft design and control to be just as exciting, so I pursured that dream. And here I am!

Jessaris/ James Bean: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT) In the future are there people really going to Mars?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Jessaris, Yes I strongly believe that eventually we (humans) will set foot on Mars. There are no plans right now, since NASA is very busy planning and building the Space Station. I would think that there will be a man or woman on Mars by the year 2050.

Lee/Berkwood: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Do you think you will live to see the plans for a settelment on mars

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Lee, you can check out the web sites on Pathfinder for that info. Pathfinder: button

Kat: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT) What town did you grow up in?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Kat: My hometown is Castle Rock, Colorado. Halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs, right next to the Rocky Mnts. A great place to grow up, in my opinion.

. . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Can you describe the mini-rover for us?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT) About the mini-rover, it's about the size of a microwave oven, and it has six wheels. It'll travel about 5-10 meters from the lander and take up-close pictures of rocks and soil on the surface.

Nicole/ James Bean: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT) If the reaserchers find Mars livable do you think that people will go up into space and live on Mars?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Nicole: No one knows for sure, but I would strongly believe that if Mars is indeed a livable place, we'll find a way to live there for long time. If it isn't livable, we may find a way to make it so. Remember that, 500 years ago, the people in Europe felt North America was a horrible place to live. Now, it's a great, properous place.

BEAN/Derek and Matt: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Do you play sports?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:29AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Derek and Matt, I play softball occasionally, and I like to ski in the winter. My main source of exercise is chasing my two-year old son around the house.

Lee/Berkwood: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Tell us more about the space station, do you think there might be another station next to mars?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Lee: The Space Station will be in orbit around the Earth, where the shuttle can get to it. There could be a station in orbit around Mars, but more likely future explorers will build a station on one of the two small moons of Mars.

5th grade/Morris: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Do you like to watch Hale-Bopp? Have you seen Hale-Bopp?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT) 5th grade/Morris: Yes, the comet is great! I've seen it about 5 times already, and it gets brigher every day. I indend to take a photograph of it sometime soon. It's been cloudy here the past few days, so I haven't seen it for a week.

Tom-Been school: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Are you worried about flying the pathfinder?

Lee/Berkwood: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:27AM PDT What kind of information is pathfinder going to bring back?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:33AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Lee: Pathfinder will tell us about the surface of Mars, mostly the chemical composition of the rocks and soil, plus the wind and temperature on the surface. We'll have daily weather reports once we land.

nick-BEAN SCHOOL: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:29AM PDT (-0700 GMT) what is your research like?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Nick, yes, in addition to leading the Pathfinder Navigation Team, I also do navigation research for the future Mars missions, like the two launching in 1999.

Nicole/ James Bean: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:29AM PDT (-0700 GMT) What do you like about nasa?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Nicole: The best part of NASA is working in the space program, which is what I have AWLAYS wanted to do. I learn so much every day, and working on the deep space missions means I get to 'see' and 'go' places that no one else has been. My favorite memory is working as a navigator on Galileo when it flew past the asteroid Gaspra in 1991. I was one of the first engineers ever to see what an asteroid looks like, and that alone was a tremendous thrill. Pathfinder will surpass that memory, I'm sure.

Megan- Bean School: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT) How old are you?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:37AM PDT (-0700 GMT) To Bree, Megan and Brian: I'm a male. I'm 31 years old.

Angela Encinal School: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:30AM PDT (-0700) What if the spacecraft never reaches Mars?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:38AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Angela, It would be a bummer if Pathfinder didn't reach Mars. I know some fellow workers who worked on Mars Observer before it fell silent in 1992, and they were very disappointed. We now have two missions going to Mars, and the odds are very good that both will arrive safely. Pathfinder is doing very well right now, and is on course for an arrival at Mars on July 4th.

Nathan/Junior: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT) When can we expect to see pictures coming back, and will we able to access them over the Internet?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Nathan: Pictures should be coming in within a few hours after the sun rises over our landing site. And yes, there are plans to place them on the Internet as soon as we can.

Jamie- Bean School: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Are you ussally very busy?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Jamie, Yes, I'm very busy. I work on Pathfinder, and do some part- time work on what we call Mars '98 (the next series of Martian spacecraft). I work nonstop from 8 to 6 every day, and take on hour our for lunch. Sometimes, I eat lunch at my desk. But I love my work, so I don't mind the extra hours.

Lee/Berkwood: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Is it true that pathfinder will bring back smells?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:42AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Lee: No there will be no smells from Pathfinder. There was no room left for anyone's nose ;)

Sandy: NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Lee: To get other Mars questions about Marsanswered, go to the "Live From Mars" Web page button and click on the Question Mark icon.

BEAN/ mat & BEN: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT) How long does it take to build a rocket?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Matt and Ben: It took us less than 3 years to plan, design and build Pathfinder. It took even less to build.

Jessaris/ James Bean: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Do you have any pets?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:42AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Jessaris: Yes, three pets. 1 dog and 2 cats.

Mr. Downes: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Thank you, Pieter. My class and I have to leave. Mr. Downes' Class, Bean School, Sidney, Maine.

nick-BEAN: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT) ARE YOU PLANNING ON WHAT YOUR FUTURE IS GOING TO BE?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:45AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Nick, I'm always thinking about what I'm goning to be doing 5 years or so down the line. I really like working on the Mars missions, so I'm going to stay with it for awhile. I would like to explore other areas of space, like the new version of the space shuttle, but my dream is to help out on a manned (or womanned) Mars mission. That would be the ultimate job.

Shannon/5th grade : . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:40AM PDT (-0700 GMT) I read in your bio that Pathfinder is 150 million miles from Mars. How do you know that it isn't going to get blown off course by wind in space, or that it won't get hit by some kind of junk?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Shannon, there is no wind in space because there is no air. As for space junk, there's very little junk out there, so we can ignore it. Never has an interplanetary space probe been hit by space junk.

Mia: Encinal school: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:40AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Has anything ever happened to the Global Surveyor that you didn't expect? If so, what?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Mia: I work on Pathfinder, but from my friend on MGS, they tell me everything is going well on their mission.

Nathan/Junior: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Do you feel that the requirement to do more with less is handicapping the overall quality of the program?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:48AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Nathan, good question. Sometimes we have to cut corners in order to 'do more with less', but we really have no choice. It's either do it for less, or don't do it at all. I feel there is more that can be done, be we do the absolute neccessary things first and then improve upon it.

Javier Encinal school: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:46AM PDT What is your prediction of when the Mars Pathfinder is coming back to Earth?

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:49AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Javier: Pathfinder will not return to Earth. It's going to stay on Mars until some astrouaut in the future wants to pick it up and bring it back, maybe to place in the Air and Space Museum in Washinton, DC.

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:52AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Thanks Pieter for your excellent answers! We look forward to talking to you again very soon :-)

Sandy/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:53AM PDT (-0700 GMT) NEXT WEBCHAT: TUESDAY, MARCH 25, 9-10 a.m., PDT, Ted Roush, NASA Ames Research Center. Please read his bio! See you next week!

Pieter/JPL_Mars: . . . . Wed, Mar 19, 10:54AM PDT (-0700 GMT) Well, it's time for me to sign off. It's been fun. Be sure to check out our web site (button for the latest information on Pathfinder. Bye.


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