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Mars Team Online Chat

Date: April 8, 1998

Featuring: Cesar Sepulveda
Optical Engineer, Mars Pathfinder and Rover
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California


Main Room


last read Wed Apr 8 14:45:06 1998

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 8 - 13:03:57 ]
Bienvenidos and welcome to today's Mars Team Online bilingual chat with Cesar Sepulveda from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory!! Cesar is a member of the Optical Engineering technical staff at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. He is part of a team that is responsible for designing and constructing the navigation cameras on the Mars Pathfinder and Rover. Cesar's team has also been part of the development of other lander and rover miniature cameras.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 9 - 13:04:21 ]
And now, here is Cesar Sepulveda to answer your questions.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 12 - 13:05:05 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] Hello, is anyone there?
Welcome, Jered. Cesar Sepulveda is here to take your questions.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 14 - 13:05:40 ]
As a reminder, Cesar will be accepting and responding to questions in English and Spanish during today's chat.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 15 - 13:06:31 ]
Welcome, everyone. Ready to take your questions.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 26 - 13:14:53 ]
go ahead and ask.. I won't bite <smile>

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 11 - 13:04:32 ]
RE: [Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] Hi!
Hi, Carlos! Still new to this... Did you receive this reply?

[ Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante - 18 - 13:07:53 ]
Yes, I recived it. Does evreyone here understand spanish? (to ask comfortably in it)

[ Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool - 20 - 13:09:36 ]
We don't understand a lot of Spanish, but feel free to use Spanish if you are more comfortable with that.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 19 - 13:08:58 ]
RE: [Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] Yes, I recived it. Does evreyone here understand spanish? (to ask comfortably in it)
Carlos, please feel free to ask your questions in English or Spanish, and Cesar will respond accordingly.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 16 - 13:07:39 ]
Jered and Carlos, do you have any questions for Cesar today?

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 21 - 13:09:50 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] How long did you have to work on the Mars Rover before it was ready to be sent? And how long did it take to get from Earth to Mars?
Jered-Anne. Hio. I was involved in the design and construction of the Rover cameras, which took about a year. The whole project took approximately 4 years to complete. The trip took exactly seven months...from December 4 1996 to July 4 1997.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 24 - 13:12:27 ]
RE: [Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] ¿En el diseño de las cámaras, también fue necesario el diseño de programas especiales, para utilizar las cámaras como herraminetas de ubicación y valoración de distancias a objetos?
En efecto, primero, se rquirio usar progrmas para diseno optico, Despues. se crearon rutinas (programas) para efectuar la navegacion. Al presente, para el proyecto Rover 2001 (y 2003), se utilizaran tecnicas de vision estereo para efectuar esta navegacion

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 29 - 13:16:51 ]
RE: [Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] ¿Cómo funciona el reconocimiento de objetos? ¿Como reconoce el robot los peligros y nuevos objetos a investigar (desde un punto de vista óptico)?
La naveciacion no es mi especialidad, pero entiendo que se comparan las imagenes a medida que se desplaza el Rover, se extraen los objetos "importantes", y de esta informacion, se deriva el tamano y la distancia a que estan.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 30 - 13:17:46 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] If you had the chance, would you ever like to go to Mars yourself?
I would LOVE to be invited to go!. However.. the trip might take about 2 years ... it would also take a lot of money. Imagine keeping a crew alive out there for all that time, provide food, water.. be able to make repairs in flight.. Difficult, huh? And of course my specialty is UNMANNED missions.. i.e. robotic instruments. Still, I would like to go and see for myself!

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 35 - 13:22:17 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] If it took 7 months for hte Rover to get to Mars, why would it take you two years?
the main thing is.. 6-8 months to get there.. 6-8 months to get back, plus you have to allow time for the planets to be in the right places to launch the trips out and back.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 36 - 13:23:39 ]
RE: [Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] Gracias. ¿Qué tipos de cámara son las de tomas anchas, y en qué se diferencian de las otras?
Carlos: Las camaras del Pathfinder Rover fueron de toma ancha (wide-angle). Al presente, tenemos tambien wide y narrow angle. Las camaras de toma ancha estan montadas en el vehiculo y son para obstaculos cercanos (rocas), las de campo mas angosto, sobre un mastil, para poder ver a mayor distancia.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 40 - 13:27:27 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] What was the most important thing, from your point of view, that science has learned as a result of the Mars Rover project?
We are still learning a LOT from this mission.. the main thing is to try to undestand the early geology of mars, and seeing if we can compare with early conditions on Earth. Some more thoughts: we only have experience of life on Earth, and much as we try to imagine, we do not know how it might arise elsewhere. Knowing the conditions on early Mars: possible water, warmth, etc.. might tell us if live COULD have evolved there. Even if all we find is microbes.. THAT would be exciting! ( the Mars meteorite on which possible microorganisms were seen is still under discussion, so we're not 100% sure) That's what makes science exciting.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 42 - 13:28:25 ]
RE: [Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] ¿Se utilizan las mismas cámaras para los diferentes espectros de luz? Y si este es el caso, ¿cómo se corrige el movimiento del punto focal de los lentes al utilizar los diferentes espectros?
Las camaras de gran angulo son "monocromaticas" (solo un color, infrarrojo) Las otras camaras estan corregidas para todo el visible y cercano infrarrojo.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 43 - 13:29:13 ]
RE: [Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] ¿Por qué las más angostas dan mayor distancia que las otras?
.... actuan como pequenos "telescopios".. a mayor longitud focal, menor campo angular y mayor distancia que cubren

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 47 - 13:34:48 ]
RE: [ Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] ¿Por qué se prefiere el infrarrojo al espectro visible en las cámaras de gran a'ngulo?
En parte porque el Pathfinder Rover tenia pequenos proyectores laser para iluminar los obstaculos, y estos laseres eran infrarrojos. Ahora no vamos a utilizar estos, pero creemos que el mejor contraste se obtiene el en rojo o infrarrojo. Todavia estamos en discusiones sobre el mejor "color" a utilizar.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 49 - 13:38:04 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] We are curious to know what material the lenses are actually made out of.
All kinds of materials: Zinc Selenide ( a yellow crystalline material), Calcium Fluoride, Magnesium Oxide, and various optical glasses. Hmm.. don't want to give away ALL my optical secrets! But it has been GREAT fun designing these small cameras.. some of my lenses are the size of a pencil eraser!

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 52 - 13:41:15 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] We are a group of high school students and we would like to know what range of salaray a person in your position might make.
hmm.. i'd rather not say.. but it is quite competitive with industry.. or at least that's what they tell us here! :) But what I CAN say is that it can be extremely rewarding to work in this field. How many can saay, "hey, I have put cameras on Mars.. and am getting ready to send some more out there"? <grin>

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 56 - 13:44:32 ]
RE: [Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] ¿los laseres reciben algun tipo de control especifico, desde el punto de vista de intensidad, potencia de emision y tiempos. Si es asi, como lo hace?
mmm.. no lo se. creo que solo se controlaba si estaban encendidos o no al tomar una imagen. (para que no interfirieran con las imagenes tomadas de las rocas, o el lander.. etc.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 58 - 13:46:16 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] How, or is, the Rover able to determine the mineral make-up of rocks and other objects it encounters
Yes, there is an instrument that emits (weak!) radioactive particles, and analyzes the resulting particles and x-rays that are scattered back, called the APXS. That was the primary analysis instrument, and gave us a very good idea indee of the composition of the rocks and soils. There will be an APXS on Mars Rover 01 and also on the '03, I'm sure These Rovers will now be carrying FOURTEEN cameras of different designs, plus a corer drill to get rock samples, the APXS and other analytical instruments.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 63 - 13:51:34 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] How long does it take for a signal or command sent from earth to reach the Rover so that it does what you have asked it to do?
Varies.. but 20-40 minutes each way. That is the reason the Rovers have to be autonomous.. no time to wait for an image of an obstacle, THEN tell it to avoid it.. would be much too late!

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 64 - 13:52:33 ]
RE: [Carlos-CarlosAndrs/Navegante] se usa algún tipo de lente holografico para mayor respuesta en el infrarojo?
No.. el lente fuciona bien sin esto.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 68 - 13:55:56 ] ]
RE: [ Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] How many people are involved in the crew that controlls the camara equipment on th Rover?
Hmmm.. I honestly don't know. Of course Pathfinder is no longer oprating. There usually was a Rover operator doing the "driving" (not in real time of course, just choosing the targets, or direction to go, etc) And they would have "shifts", so every one had a chance at it.

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 69 - 13:57:27 ]
RE: [Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool] what do you do during the 40 - 80 minute wait time?
Oh, there is PLENTY to do.. usually they are planning the next command uplink, or receiving data and trying to decide from that what to do next. etc. Very lively in the operations room!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 72 - 13:59:30 ]
We will now be ending our chat with Cesar Sepulveda today. Thank you to everyone for joining us today. A special thanks to Cesar Sepulveda from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboraotory for chatting with us!

[ CesarSepulveda/JPL - 73 - 13:59:48 ]
MY PLEASURE! Looks like we have to wrap this up.. wish we could do much more. any final questions? I really enjoyed the chat!!

[ Jered-Anne/HighlandHighSchool - 74 - 14:00:30 ]
Thank you very much for your time-from Highland High School science classes in Ault, Colorado (applause)

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 75 - 14:00:42 ]
We hope you can join us for our next Mars Team Online chat with Jennifer Harris from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Friday, April 24 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Learn more about this chat at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/events/interact.html

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 76 - 14:01:44 ]
So long for now from Mars Team Online!


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