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Mars Team Online Chat

Date: May 6, 1998

Featuring: Rich Hogen
Aerospace Engineer
Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colorado


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last read Wed May 6 13:43:50 1998

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 11 - 11:58:56 ]
RE: [Rich/LMA/Denver] I'm here. :)
Hi Rich. Thanks for joining us today!

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 12 - 11:59:38 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Hi Rich. Thanks for joining us today!
My pleasure. Do we have participants yet?

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 15 - 12:00:53 ]
RE: [Rich/LMA/Denver] My pleasure. Do we have participants yet?
No, but hopefully we will soon. Sometimes classes run a bit late.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 20 - 12:03:39 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Rich, while we're waiting for our other participants, here is an e-mail question we received for you: HI, My name is Kaitlin Erickson and I am writing to you from Aurora Colorado. I go to Laredo Middle School. I was wondering if you could give me an estimate of time, How long before we will be sending astronauts to Mars?
The factors controlling when "we" will be sending people to Mars are many and variable. It costs a lot of money, it takes a lot of time (usually longer than the 4-year government administration that approves spending), and it has to be well justified. There's no way to tell right now when it'll happen, but the more people show interest in exploration, the earlier it'll happen.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 21 - 12:04:25 ]
Hello and welcome to today's Mars Team Online chat with Rich Hogen! Rich is an aerospace engineer, and is one of several people on the MGS Spacecraft Operations Team at Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, Colorado. One of his responsibilities involves whole-spacecraft and mission operational analysis ("Systems Engineering", or SYS) and another involves Real-Time Operations (RTO). RTO is all about working with NASA JPL's Deep Space Network (DSN) to properly send commands to the spacecraft and make sure good data is received from the spacecraft.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 16 - 12:01:25 ]
RE: [Kye/TheEventInventor] Hello Oran and Rich
Welcome, Kye! Richard Hogen is here to answer your questions.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 19 - 12:03:36 ]
RE: [WillERAU-WillERAU] Hi, this is Will from New York
Welcome, Will!

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 22 - 12:05:14 ]
RE: [Kye/TheEventInventor] Rich - I was reading about the Mars Relay instrument on the MGS that is going to be used to pass data from the MSP98 Lander back to Earth. (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/sci/mr/mr.html) Is it going to be effected by MGS's antenna problems? Also, will it be communicating with the Deep Space Network directly or will data be passed to NASA from the Stanford Dish?
What MGS antenna problems? As for DSN vs. Stanford, I have believe it'll be DSN but I'd have to verify that. The problem is that the "mission plan" is no longer valid, so this might be up for negotiation next year.

[ Kye/TheEventInventor - 24 - 12:08:17 ]
OPPS! I think I got the MGS confused with the Pathfinder mission!

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 25 - 12:08:58 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Rich, here is another e-mail question for you: hi rich just thought i would drop you a e-mail how is it up high can you see mount gambier sa as you go over i know you talk too some amuter radio guys here in mt gambier . do you get bored at all or are you busy all the time ??well cheers for now .enid
Enid, I don't do amateur radio, so I know nothing about this! Sorry.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 29 - 12:13:40 ]
RE: [Kye/TheEventInventor] As the solar activity cycle increases over the next 4 or 5 years, do you expect to have more times when the Sun (being very close to Mars in our sky) will make data reception even more difficult than it has been for this solar conjunction cycle? Also - do you expect data being gathered now about Mars' magnetic fields to help you know when you can get better reception of the data signals?
Yes, but I'm don't know about the telecommunication system design for '98 and '01. They might be more tolerant of the expected scintillation and other effects, but not of the photosphere literally expanding. As for the magnetic field of Mars, it is not a factor in telecomm. Earth's mag field is a factor because it's strong enough to capture solar wind particles, resulting in a host of secondary effects that can interfere. Not so at Mars.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 33 - 12:16:30 ]
RE: [WillERAU-WillERAU] Has the image mapping of the surface of Mars revealed any promising sites for the next rover landing, near the poles or such?
Yes, good question. This is part of the integrated exploration strategy of the Mars missions. Since mission planning for Mars Polar Lander ('98 lander) had to start some time ago they already had a region selected. But the new MGS images have refined site estimates, surface roughness calculations, MPL camera usage strategy, etc.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 34 - 12:16:47 ]
RE: [WillERAU-WillERAU] I am very sorry, but I have to go. Oran, is it possible if I can get a written transcript of this chat log?
Yes, an archive of this chat will be available online within the next day or so. Check the Mars archives at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/events/webchats/experts.html in the next couple of days. Thanks for joining us today.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 35 - 12:19:23 ]
RE: [WillERAU-WillERAU] I have a career question, if you can help. Next year I will enroll in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University majoring in Engineering Physics. From what I have gathered, a background in the Air Force is nearly a must if you want to get anywhere in the NASA space program. Is this true? Will I be so disadvantaged if I didn't? Thanks
Will, regarding Embry-Riddle and all that, NASA does many things, and not everyone involved in space is an astronaut. I suppose your question is about becoming an astronaut. If so, then here's the deal. You really only have to go the military route if you want to be a shuttle pilot. Mission Specialists come from all walks of life, mostly science and engineering, of course. If you can imagine becoming a Mission Specialist then they key is to find planetside activities that interest you and do them well. The astronaut program wants people who are competent at Earth-based activities primarily, not just space-heads. :)

[ WillERAU-WillERAU - 36 - 12:19:30 ]
Thank you both Oran and Rich. I hope I am able to speak with you soon, I have MANY questions! If anything, my e-mail address is thoth037@aol.com. Thank you all, and good night. :-)

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 37 - 12:21:00 ]
Will, you can find my email address at my web page. (explore it)

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 39 - 12:22:07 ]
RE: [WillERAU-WillERAU] Thank you both Oran and Rich. I hope I am able to speak with you soon, I have MANY questions! If anything, my e-mail address is thoth037@aol.com. Thank you all, and good night. :-)
Thanks again for joining us today, Rich. We hope you will be able to join us on May 19 and 20 for our Space Day chats. Check the Countdown to Space Day page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/spaceday for more information.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 43 - 12:26:17 ]
RE: [Kye/TheEventInventor] I would like to know more about the yo-yo "despin device" that will be used with the MSP98 vehicles after the third stage burn of the Delta rocket is completed. I presume the purpose of this devise is to stop the spinning motion that is inherent in bodies in motion, but it's interesting to imagine how such a gizmo would work! Maybe kinda like the gyroscopes used for auto-pilots on airplanes ?!?
You know more about MSP98 third-stage activities than I do, Kye (no surprise -- you're a dynamo!). But you're right. Spin control is primarily done with reaction wheels, but sometimes with other approaches. Lunar Prospector just extended its arms to slow its spin rate. Simple and effective.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 45 - 12:30:51 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Rich, we routinely receive questions from students about manned mission to Mars. At this time, what are the plans for this?
It costs a lot of money to analyze and update manned/humanned/crewed mission plans, so recently there was an order at NASA to cease all manned mission analyses except those involving International Space Station. Shortly afterward that order was softened. Basically, there are no plans. What we need now, and Dan Goldin is doing this, is more information about planets outside our solar system and about water inside our solar system so we can refine our realistic estimates of the likelihood of recognizable life "out there". We also need to decide as a species that exploration is important for our survival and that of the Earth, and we need to specifically decide precisely WHY we need to send humans elsewhere. It won't happen until SOME agreement is reached, consciously or subconsciously, about these questions.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 47 - 12:34:21 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Rich, how will the information we have received about Mars so far influence the types of missions planned for the future?
I hate to say it, but the details are unknown to me. To answer this question fully I'd have to be well familiar with all the missions, and I'm not. Recently I've spent some weeks working on the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) sequence of events for Mars Polar Lander. I know that the camera strategy has been refined because of MGS images, and I believe the Attitude Control and Navigation approaches and software have been updated to take into account topographical data from MOLA. Extend these kinds of influences to the other missions. It takes so long to develop science instruments that I really doubt the instruments themselves will be redesigned based on incoming data, but their usage and targets will probably be refined.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 51 - 12:38:57 ]
RE: [Patti/CJHS] What are some of the lessons learned from the Mars rover and pathfinder mission that will help in future missions to Mars?
That's a fantastic question and it goes to the heart of efficiency in aerospace engineering. Spacecraft are incredibly complex, and space exploration missions are replete with details and data. To capture lessons learned is very difficult. We could spend years just meeting and talking and learning from each other, but there just isn't time for that. Over time, new ways to capture rationale and lessons learned will creep into teleconferencing tools and through other means, but right now it's mostly captured in the memories of high-level program managers who discuss such issues with each other. At reviews and strategy meetings those memories get communicated to the other participants. The other issue is that many times a lesson learned is specific to one spacecraft design and mission and isn't applicable to others. As for specifics from MPF, the only one I really know of is the difficulty in performing teleoperations with such a long round-trip light-time delay.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 52 - 12:42:05 ]
RE: [Kye/TheEventInventor] Rich - My son Carl wants to know - If the nearest star with planets is 50 or 60 light years away how long do you think it will take to develope a spacecraft that can get there in a reasonable amount of time.
Fifty or 60 light years may as well be the other side of the universe given our current technology and understanding of physical laws. Because it is literally over the horizon of imaginable activity, we have to answer such a question with intermediate questions like: how long until we figure out how to safely use cryogenic stasis on people? How long until we have fusion power and the associated propulsion benefits? How long until we have functional nanotechnology to keep computers and mechanisms working for long periods of time? Etc. In part, the answers depend on Carl and his peers and what they do with their lives to contribute to collective human understanding and technological know-how while keeping the planet alive.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 53 - 12:43:26 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Rich, how much "say so" do you have regarding the design of Mars crafts?
I'm currently NOT working in a design capacity on any Mars missions, so the answer is NONE, for now.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 55 - 12:45:03 ]
RE: [Patti/CJHS] How far out into space does the Deep Space Network reach?
That depends on the strength of the signal being detected. If the signal is strong, the DSN can "reach" far out. Right now the DSN is tracking the incredibly weak signal of Voyager spacecraft out at the edge of the solar system. The DSN has been used to study astronomical objects into the distant reaches of space.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 56 - 12:48:52 ]
RE: [Michael-Michael/NorthwestJuniorHigh] Looking ahead to when there will be a large number of people living on Mars, I was wondering what kind of entertainment was being looked at for the people there. In particular I'm interested in sports. Has any consideration been given to what kinds of sports could be played on Mars, and the effect on the Martian conditions such as less gravity would have on sports.
NASA barely has technical plans to establish a "permanent" base on Mars, let alone funding plans. Your question falls into the category of "human factors", which is an area that has been studied more and more. There's no question that people need recreational time, but I suspect that you can't plan on such things. People will invent their own recreational activities no matter where they live.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 62 - 12:57:17 ]
RE: [Kye/TheEventInventor] Rich - When should we expect to start seeing results of the science data being gathered on MGS now through the summer?
We here at MGS ops ask that question often! The science data is in the hands of the scientists. It is a "product" that we deliver to them using our spacecraft and our operations organization. After that, we wait for results just like everybody else. I suggest sending such questions directly to the investigators. Check the Malin Space Science Systems page for MOC and see if the other instruments have pages with contact info on other NASA web sites.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 63 - 13:00:17 ]
RE: [Michael-Michael/NorthwestJuniorHigh] Has there been any thought of sending a handicapped person into space or the potential benefits of mobility that reduced gravity would have for people with mobility problems?
I don't know, but I wrote a story a few years ago in which mobility-handicapped people were on equal mobility footing (pun intended) with "normals" and in fact they took rather well to microgravity. The NASA and Russian manned space programs are government agencies and they probably will never actively seek to place other-abled people into space for fear of public backlash. (Oran, I'll try to get to your question at the end)

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 67 - 13:06:34 ]
RE: [Michael-Michael/NorthwestJuniorHigh] Is your story of mobility-handicapped people published anywhere that I could read it?
Oh, no, it's just something I was working on. In fact, that part was in the background to the story itself, not expounded upon within the story. Go to my web site, find my email address (click on the title) and we'll talk about this offline.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 75 - 13:17:56 ]
RE: [Kye/TheEventInventor] Rich - Sure!! I wonder if you are familiar with the MSP98 Lander's power supply. The Pathfinder couldn't recharge batteries after a few Maritan dust storms got its solar panels all dusty. We were wondering if (since there is an arm and hand type mechanism) they couldn't sorta send a "wet wipe" along in the Lander's pocket to wipe off the dust (Actually this was Carl's idea!)
An interesting question. The battery issue had more to do with temperature than the dust on the solar panels, as I understand it. MPF was getting colder and colder as the mission progressed, I think because the nights at that location were getting longer. Batteries store energy chemically, and as you know chemical reactions happen faster in the presence of heat and slower in the absence of heat. At a certain point the batteries got cold enough that they couldn't retain enough charge overnight and were so depleted by morning that they couldn't start up the lander's computer. The charge rate is determined by the power system, including the panels and the batteries themselves, which can't be charged too quickly or they'll be damaged. As for wet wipes, think about this: in a situation where there is the possibility of computer error, do you want your scoop arm to be able to articulate into the solar panels? Nope. The dust issue is a toughy.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 77 - 13:21:06 ]
RE: [Dara-Melissa/DracutHighSchool] hi every1, i want 2 find out does medicines for humans work in space the same way as on Earth? and precautions do they have to take notice?
That's good question. I have little exposure to humanned space activities, so I don't know the answer. From what I've heard, it's probably safe to assume that EVERYTHING related to biology is different in space. We evolved in the presence of gravity and our fluid transport system is completely thrown off in microgravity (that's why astronauts' faces look bloated -- gravity is not there to pull blood down into the legs). The fluid distribution systems (blood circulation and hormone and other chemical distribution) no longer function as they have evolved to.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 79 - 13:28:22 ]
Say, officially speaking, I may have told Kye and Carl the wrong thing about batteries and energy stored. But in any case I think the problem was temperature related overnight and not to the solar panel dust issue. (I'm no Power guy)

[ Kye/TheEventInventor - 80 - 13:29:59 ]
Rich - No problem! Sounds like something for Carl to research. Thanks again to both you and Oran. Clear Skies and bye for now!

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 66 - 13:05:09 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Rich, in closing, what direction would you like to see space exploration take in the future?
I would love to see a successful sample return mission from Mars, adding up to enough data that would compel us (as a species) to want to explore Mars and settle the question of past life on Mars once and for all. I'd love to see more commerical missions whose purpose is entertainment, movie-making, and other indirect public participation in space exploration. (keep your eyes on LunaCorp's plans, and watch to see if Japan's EarthRise mission comes to pass, among others in the works) Aside from that I naturally want the current trend of cheaper, faster exploration missions to continue, because they are so much fun and are so exciting from both this "insider" point of view and also from a general audience point of view. Oh, also, I look forward to missions to explore the water at the Moon's south pole and to experiment with making good use of it. That'd be really cool, too.

[ Kye/TheEventInventor - 64 - 13:02:39 ]
Rich - Thanks so much for your time! This was a VERY interesting chat. Thanks also for the inspiring answer to Carl.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 71 - 13:10:36 ]
Thank you to those of you who were able to join us for today's Mars Team Online chat with Rich Hogen.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 72 - 13:10:59 ]
A special thanks to Rich Hogen for chatting with us today.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 82 - 13:30:56 ]
Thanks, all. See you next time.


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