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Mars Team Online WebChat

Date: March 3, 1998

Featuring: Peter Thomas
Research Scientist, Mars Global Surveyor
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York


[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 0 - 09:05:02 ]
Hello! Today's rescheduled chat with Peter Thomas from Cornell University will take place in just about 1 hr. Read Peter's bio first, and have your questions ready! Peter has a lot of knowledge about Mars to share with you. Peter's bio and journals can be found at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/team/thomas.html

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 3 - 10:08:33 ]
RE: [Sandy/NASAChatHost] Hello! Today's rescheduled chat with Peter Thomas from Cornell University will take place in just about 1 hr. Read Peter's bio first, and have your questions ready! Peter has a lot of knowledge about Mars to share with you. Peter's bio and journals can be found at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/team/thomas.html
Hello Sandy! anyone else there yet?

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 4 - 10:11:05 ]
RE: [PeterThomas/Cornell] Hello Sandy! anyone else there yet?
Peter: No one has logged on yet!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 5 - 10:12:37 ]
RE: [Sandy/NASAChatHost] Peter: No one has logged on yet!
Peter: Twenty kids of signed up for today's chat, but I don't know where they are! I just had someone login from Ames and the server is up and running and they were able to get to this chat room without any problems. Sit tight for another few minutes...

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 6 - 10:12:40 ]
RE: [Sandy/NASAChatHost] Peter: No one has logged on yet!
Well, while they wait a few minutes, Mars Global Surveyor travels a few hundred kilometers!

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 9 - 10:20:56 ]
RE: [Sandy/NASAChatHost] Peter: And while we're still waiting, this question was sent to me by Charlissa Saunders, a 9th grader from Littleton, CO. Charlissa asks: What if NASA were to plant some kind of vegitation that needs little water and is used to extreme temperatures, such as cactus? Plant life - to the best of my knowledge - needs no oxygen, exept what is in the water. After a while, wouldn't the oxygen produced in photosynthisis replace the CO2, thus allowing for an ozone layer, and rain? And the formation of rain would allow more variety in the kind of plant life that could be imported. If there are plants to produce oxygen, rain, and an ozone layer, that means that lakes and streams could form, and eventually animals could be imported. This is just an idea, but it sounds like a good one.Is it possible? If not, why?
While cactus is used to what we call extreme temperatures, only rarely does the temperature on Mars get above freezing, and every night it gets down to well under -100F. That's a pretty stiff jump, in addition to soil requirements. While the CO2 pressure is high enough on Mars, so many other things are different from any environment terrestrial plants evolved in, that straight transplants would not be a good bet. Some sort of protection from the colad intially, and some water source (ie, not frozen!) would be needed. But maybe...

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 15 - 10:27:01 ]
RE: [maggie/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] Would you like to be an astronaut and go to Mars?
I'd love to go to Mars..Would I take several years out to train if guaranteed a spot? maybe. Would there be a spot for me in 20 years? probably not! A lot of other people will want to go, and they'll be a lot younger..more like your age!

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 16 - 10:29:11 ]
RE: [grant/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] Do you think there is life out in space, or on any planets.
Well, there is life on this planet in space! In our solar system Mars is the best bet for haviong had life..simple stuff, its clear there were no big trees forests, etc, but even the simple things are not shown yet. Outside our solar system with the trillions of suns and probable planets, must something that at least rgows a little!

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 21 - 10:32:37 ]
RE: [Arthur/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] Did you go to school in Durham and which schools?
I went to elemntary school..(lakewood school, the old one before snow caved the roof in about 1959), and Carr Jr high..then effectively out of town

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 22 - 10:33:16 ]
RE: [sasha/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] How long did you live in North Caorlina?
till I was in HS, then off and on until 30 ys old

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 23 - 10:33:34 ]
Welcome to everyone at Rural Hall! Peter and I are really happy that you could make it today! I have one question for you or your teacher-- did you have trouble getting into this chat room today?

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 26 - 10:36:18 ]
RE: [jordan/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] Why do you think Mars is so special? Also, when do you think we will get there?
Mars is really the most earth-like of the other planets..has things that are familiar, such as conical volcanoes, flood channels, sand dunes, dust storms, and lots of sedimentary rocks. Yet is its tremndously different..no oceans, no pl will we get there? we sort of are..with robots. When will people get there? maybe 20 years..takes a lot of money, work, and good political climate! ate tectonics, REALLY thin atmosphere,awflly cold, and different kinds of polar caps..

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 27 - 10:38:20 ]
RE: [maggie/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] What planet do you think Astronauts will be visiting when I grow up?
Mars is the best candidate..Venus is slightly closer, but its very hot,thick atmosphere, and poisonous: sulfuric acid drops!, means it is much more difficult to study..with humans or robots.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 32 - 10:41:55 ]
RE: [mcdermon/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] Sandy, Sorry, yes we did have a problem. Our printer printed out only part of the address; it stopped at c. Anyway, we figured it out. Sorry for the delay. Our kids are very excited and want to keep asking questions. Thanks for your time. Linda
Linda: No problem! I just wanted to make sure it wasn't something on our end that was causing problems for kids to get into the chat room. Keep on asking questions; your kids are doing a great job :-)

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 33 - 10:41:57 ]
RE: [Sandy/NASAChatHost] Peter I have a question for you from your latest journal entry: Exactly what is involved in pointing the Global Surveyor camera at a specific target on Mars? And, are you going to point it at the feature that looks similar to a "face"?
Pointing MGS: it looks along the track it follows over Mars; the "pointing" comes in as it rolls along this track , so you have a moving, spinning spacecraft. Obviously to get something in the camera, you have to know EXACTLY where you are, and what time it is! all a matter of timing. JPL tells you what happens when, you tell the spacecraft when you want to take a picture. Lter on in "mapping orbit" it looks straight down; it still is a matter of "when do we pass over a point?"..and the camera covers about 2 miles on a side..so getting small targets like the face-like rock, is hard! but it is on the target list.

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 34 - 10:42:52 ]
RE: [tc/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] Do you think we will be able to travel to another solar system.
mmaybe, but the flight itself would take hundreds of years!

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 35 - 10:44:31 ]
RE: [chasidy/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] What do you think will be the next 2 plantets we will explore?
The next twoo planets we will really explore: Saturn with the Cassini mission on its way, and perhaps we'll get a flight to Mercury..this leaves out the continuing series of flights to Mars

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 36 - 10:45:43 ]
RE: [shane/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] What are your hobbies? What do you do when you aren't studying Mars.
Photgraphy, general outdoor things, tennis, and making the occasional t-shirts for groups..

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 38 - 10:48:22 ]
RE: [tc/RuralHall-mcdermon/RuralHall] What would you study on Mars?
finally found this question! The polar caps and what sort of climate record they contain. The ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica show about 200 thousand years of climate change..2 major ice ages..the ones on Mars may show a much longer time, different influences, and may show better influeneces of a planet's orbit on its climate

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 39 - 10:49:47 ]
RE: [Sandy/NASAChatHost] Peter: In your answer to Chasidy, are you implying that some of the missions in the upcoming series of flights to Mars have been cancelled/postponed? Last I heard, NASA was going to send a mission to Mars every 20 months or so...
No, I just excluded them from my answer! they are still on, but the ones dealing with sample returns after 2003 are very poorly defined as of yet, so the exact numbers of flights and payloads are unclear!! and may change!!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 40 - 10:52:31 ]
EVERYONE: There's about 7 minutes left in our chat with Peter today. Sned in just a couple of more questions and then we'll have to call it a day!

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 41 - 10:53:07 ]
So I'll ask a question: anyone out there want to go to Mars?

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 42 - 10:57:55 ]
RE: [PeterThomas/Cornell] So I'll ask a question: anyone out there want to go to Mars?
No way, not me! I couldn't stand the confinement of a spacecraft for the 9 mo-1 year trip. I need to be able to get outside to run around and kick up my heels at least once a day :-)

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 43 - 10:59:35 ]
RE: [Sandy/NASAChatHost] No way, not me! I couldn't stand the confinement of a spacecraft for the 9 mo-1 year trip. I need to be able to get outside to run around and kick up my heels at least once a day :-)
Obviously you aren't a big fan of submarine movies!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 44 - 10:59:42 ]
OK EVERYONE, it looks like that's it for today! We're really glad you found your way to the chat room! You asked some great questions :-) And a special thank you to Peter Thomas for rescheduling for today and for taking the time to be with us again!

[ PeterThomas/Cornell - 45 - 11:00:42 ]
Everyone have a good week, go outside and look for some planets at night! Enjoyed it!

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