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Mars Team Online Chat

Date: April 24, 1998

Featuring: Jennifer Harris
Lead Integration and Test Engineer, Mars Rover and Navigation Subsystem
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California


Main Room


last read Fri Apr 24 12:10:13 1998

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 15 - 12:10:13 ]
Jennifer is online now!

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 16 - 12:10:33 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] What do you do at work?
Hi, When I'm at work I do a lot of different things. Many times, I try and figure out why something isn't working the way we think it should. other times I make sure things work the way we think they should. For example: I send a command to simulate firing a thurster. I make sure the software and hardware work to do this.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 18 - 12:12:11 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] Is The 2001 rover much bigger then the Sojourner??
The 2001 Rover is 3 times as big Sojourner.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 20 - 12:13:24 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] How long did you have to go to college?
I studied for four years and received my Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. For the last three years, I have been going to school part time to get my Master's Degree in Aerospace Engineering.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 23 - 12:14:56 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] Do you have an idea to get rid of the dust on the solar-panels on th 2001 rover. The sojourner didnīt fix that. Or??
Gret Question. The dust accumulation on the solar panels is one of the biggest problems we have on 2001 because the mission is supposed to last one year. We don't have a solution yet except for getting much more efficient solar panels with a lot of extra power at the beginning of life - so there's enough at the end of life to still run the rover.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 25 - 12:16:14 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] How many test did you take before you could send that sojouner?
We tested for two years. We did very simple tests of functions like - Can the cmaera take a picutre. We also did many tests of Operational capabilities - like can we tell the landscape features well enough from the pictures to drive the rover.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 26 - 12:16:42 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] What power source have the 2001 Rover??
We will have a solar panel and rechargable batteries on the 2001 rover.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 30 - 12:18:59 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] This question came in by email: Hi, my name is Angela Rocha. I go to the Charlestown School in Rhode Island. I am in third grade. These are my questions. Where on Mars did you find the face of mars and how did it get there ? How did the face on Mars disapere ? Do you hear anything on Mars ? Was there life on Mars before ? Do people on Mars live under ground ? How did the planets get here ? Thank you.
Wow- lots of questions Susan. I'll answer a few. The face on Mars is feature that is the resultof the surface features on the planet. No people live in Mars underground. The planets got there when the solar system was formed in the Big Bang and ours got captured by the gravity of the sun.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 31 - 12:20:00 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] Where did you do the testing?
We did the testing at JPL in our sandbox. We also tested at JPL in our Mars Yard. Other drop tests were done in the desert at China Lake.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 34 - 12:21:37 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] Here is another email question: my question is, do you feel that the work that you are doing has, (shall we say ), a meaning to it. Harry Phelan, Ireland
I feel that the work I'm doing has significance in that we are learning about our universe. For me the answers to some of the questions we find have theological significnace and I find that fascinating.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 35 - 12:23:04 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] Couldnīt you make a dust-wiper on it??
A dust wiper is and idea we've though about. It adds moving parts (that have to survive extremely cold temperatures), mass, complexity, and volume. Designing this dust wiper is a big challenge to make sure it would survive the mission.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 36 - 12:23:35 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] What college did you go to?
I attended MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 39 - 12:25:14 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] Was it hard as a women to get this job as a test engineere?
Not at all. As a woman it's really no different than as a man unless I make it different. but instead of thinking about that I try and be the best at what I do. Then it doesn't matter if you're a woman or a man - if you know your stuff you can get a job pretty much anywhere.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 42 - 12:28:36 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] Another "batch" email question: Hi, my name is Anthony Felix. I am in third grade at the Charlestown School in Rhode Island. These are my questions. Is the rover going to bring rocks back to Earth? Is Neil Armstrong still alive? What was here before the planets? How did they build the rover? How did Earth become a liveing planet?
The 2001 rover is going to collect rocks for another mission (2005) to bring back to earth. before the universe there was probably nothing - not even space here. Probably space and time were created in beginning of the universe. Then the planets were captured by the sun's gravity as everything was expanding. Earth is a living planet for many reasons - the atmosphere protects us from harmful rays from the sun. The distance from the sun is exactly correct in order to have a climate that supports our life. We have water. The rover was built by making models, testing them, improveing them, and making better models (and software)

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 44 - 12:30:17 ]
RE: [Lee/L.A.P.] JenniferHarris/Jcl f given the chance,would you go to Mars?
If given a chance I think I would truly consider going to Mars. I love the mountains on earth - they're one of my favorite place. On Mars they have a mountain that is 27 km high. They also have a Grand Canyon that is as big as the United States. I would go in order to see these dramatic features with my own eyes. But, I don't think we're ready to go to Mars yet. We have a lot more to learn from our robots before we send people.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 46 - 12:31:44 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] We are also interest in knowing if you can hear anything on mars.
There's not much of an atmosphere to carry sound waves so you wouldn't be able to hear much on Mars.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 47 - 12:33:01 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] Do you do anything else besides mars?
Right now, I work on mars projects at work. But I love to do a lot fo other activities. I travel, bike, run (I just ran the LA Marathon), play the piano, play volleyball and do activities with my church.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 51 - 12:35:40 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] Why couldnīt you use compressed air to blow away the dust?
We could take a compressor with us to Mars to do this. As with the dust wiper, the design of a compressor to survive the extremem temperatures and also be small and light enough to puton the rover is not trivial. It could a lot of money to develop something like this. Your ideas are great though. We've considered many of them - an still are.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 52 - 12:36:42 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] What sort of an instrument is a frumpet.
A frumpet is a trumpet with a bigger bell. It sounds just a little lower and less brassy than a frumpet. It's like a french horn for marching band.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 55 - 12:38:15 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] What other planets would you like to study?
I would love to study Pluto because we don't know very much about it yet. We've never sent a spacecraft there but plan to soon. I'd also like to study the moon Europa. The Galileo mission took pictures that showed there is ice on Europa and there may be liquid water very close to the surface of this ice. (Europa is a moon of Jupiter)

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 56 - 12:38:36 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] Have the 2001 rover got any arm??
Yes, the 2001 Rover has and instrument arm.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 58 - 12:39:23 ]
RE: [Lee/L.A.P.] How long does it take to get a space craft to Mars
Because of the way the planets line up, every two years we have an opportunity to launch a spacecraft to Mars. It can take from 7 - 10 months to get there depending on how wide your trajectory is.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 61 - 12:40:11 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] What kind of motor isīt in the 2001 rover? And how fast is it?
The 2001 rover has motors in all of it's wheels. They are DC motors but the rover only goes about 2 mph.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 62 - 12:41:02 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] Is there any jobs in this field that you could do without a college degree?
If you don't have a college degree your options are very limited. But, you could get some sort of training with Electronics (maybe two years instead of four) and work on putting electronics together.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 64 - 12:42:03 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] Is the cameras on the 2001 rover from the Swedish "Hasselblads" (They did the Moon cameras)
The cameras on 2001 are being developed here at JPL so I believe they are different than the ones you are referring to.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 66 - 12:43:13 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] How much does the rovor weigh?
The rover is still being designed so we're not exactly sure but probably from 30 - 50 kg.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 68 - 12:44:16 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] How much does the rovor weigh?
The sojourner rover weighed 10 kg + 6 kg of extra stuff on the lander to make it work (ramps, etc.)

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 70 - 12:44:54 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] How many wheels has the 2001 rover got??
The 2001 Rover has 6 wheels

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 71 - 12:45:45 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] Will the rover have active and passive sensors for navigation?
The rover has lasers and cameras that will be used for navigating on the surface.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 74 - 12:47:53 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] Does it have the intelligence to recognize obstacles?
The rover has software that will interpret the data from the sensors and figure out if there is an obstacle in the way of its traverse. If there is, the rover will either stop and "phone home" to earth - or it will plan a path around the obstacle and continue on. We will have different modes that the rover will be able to operate in.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 75 - 12:49:53 ]
RE: [Lee/L.A.P.] Are there any projects that are being worked on to send a space craft to any other planets or moons?
THe current projects are: Cassini - on it's way to Saturn. It will be there in 7 years Galileo - already at Jupiter and finishing it's misison Fire and Ice - Go to Europa and Pluto DS4 - Land on a comet and bring back a sample Moon - Lunar Prospector just recently discovered a lot of water on the moon so, there's a lot going on.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 83 - 12:53:08 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] when you were in high school did you picture yourself doing this kind of work?
When I was in high school I thought maybe I wanted to be a concert pianist or an astrophysicist. I didn't know I'd be working on Mars projects. But, when I declared my major as Aerospace Engineering my second year of college I figured I'd do planetary exploration stuff. JPL seemed like the coolest place to work to me.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 86 - 12:54:18 ]
RE: [Lee/L.A.P.] Where is the best web site to keep up on the latest info about all of these projects?
JPl has a website: http://jpl.nasa.gov Mars has one: http://mpfwww.jpl.nasa.gov But, you can get to everything through the JPL website. There's a lot of neat information there. Great pictures, too.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 87 - 12:54:44 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] Sorry that i repeated my question. its my stupid computer. Iīm Sorry
Sorry I repeated my reply. My computer wasn't the problem.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 88 - 12:55:47 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] Do you have to work a lot of overtime in your job?
Sometimes I do have to work a lot of overtime - especially when launch os quickly approaching and we are still trying to make sure everything works. In this phase of the project (design) it's not as bad.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 93 - 12:58:13 ]
RE: [Anne/HighlandHighSchool] Is there a project on Saturn
Cassini is on it's way to Saturn. It'll be there in 7 years. It will send a probe to the moon Titan and also fly through the rings - pretty cool.

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 94 - 12:59:11 ]
RE: [Anders/Sweden] Do you enjoy to chat with students??
I enjoy chatting with students. I'm ALWAYS amazed at how much students know and how creative they are with comments, questions, and suggestions for us here at NASA.

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 95 - 12:59:24 ]
This has been a great chat, I know I've gained a great deal! Thanks kids for your thoughtful questions, and especially thanks to Jennifer Harris and good luck to you as your pioneer work in space continues

[ JenniferHarris/JPL - 97 - 13:00:22 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] This has been a great chat, I know I've gained a great deal! Thanks kids for your thoughtful questions, and especially thanks to Jennifer Harris and good luck to you as your pioneer work in space continues
Thanks you all. I'll run some of your great ideas by my co-workers out here:) Bye

[ Lee/L.A.P. - 98 - 13:01:14 ]
I have to leave,but thank you so much for your time.This ismy first on line chat and from a little girl,who stared into space,dreaming,myself,it has been an honor to "meet" you

[ Anders/Sweden - 99 - 13:01:39 ]
Bye everybody!! A greeting from Sweden


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