Header Bar Graphic
Astronaut ImageArchives HeaderBoy Image

TabHomepage ButtonWhat is NASA Quest ButtonSpacerCalendar of Events ButtonWhat is an Event ButtonHow do I Participate Button
SpacerBios and Journals ButtonSpacerPics, Flicks and Facts ButtonArchived Events ButtonQ and A ButtonNews Button
SpacerEducators and Parents ButtonSpacer
Highlight Graphic
Sitemap ButtonSearch ButtonContact Button

LFM banner
UPDATE # 47 - July 24, 1997

PART 1: WebChat Schedule in the Work
PART 2: Creating Your Own 3-D Stereo Images
PART 3: MPF Team Journal #1: Ambassador for Mars
PART 4: MPF Team Journal #2: Getting Back to Normal
PART 5: Mars Pathfinder Update
PART 6: Mars Global Surveyor Flight Status
PART 7: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it!


The WebChats continue to be a big hit and we plan to continue having them!
A schedule for the last week in July and for the month of August should be
firm by Monday, August 28. Check out the new schedule at:

Due to the large number of anticipated participants, it is necessary for
you to register for WebChats in order to participate. All you need to do
is RSVP to sandy@quest.arc.nasa.gov no less than 24 hours in advance in
order to reserve a space for yourself. You will receive confirmation of
your registration and a password to enter the chat room. If the chat rooms
are full by the time you register, you can still participate by watching
the chat from the Observe Room at:


Thanks to LFM teacher Tim McCollum, detailed instructions for creating
your own 3-D stereo images (similar to those taken by Pathfinder) are now
available at: http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/~cxtdm/3dimages.html

You and your students will have a lot of fun creating the 3-D images and
interacting with the science and the discoveries of the Pathfinder
mission. Send your results to sandy@quest.arc.nasa.gov for posting on the
Kids Corner Web page at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/kids/index.html


[Editor's note: John Moreau is the librarian and archivist of the Space
Photography Lab at Arizona State University in Phoenix.]

by John Moreau

July 21, 1997
Working late at the Space Photography Laboratory tonight, getting ready to
go out to a classroom in central Phoenix tomorrow morning. This will be a
class of 5th and 6th graders who are going to summer school. Their teacher
is an old college friend of mine and he's asked me to come out and talk
about the latest information from the Mars Pathfinder and Galileo
missions, as well as about planets in general, to his students. This is
one of the best parts of my job--talking to and doing fun activities with
kids who are interested in space exploration. I'm really looking forward
to tomorrow.

It's been pretty busy around Arizona State University since the Pathfinder
landing. That day (7/4/97) we had three television station crews in our
facility filming NASA Select TV and conducting interviews with people
involved with the project and graduate students. As the education/outreach
person here for our research group, and since my boss, Dr. Ron Greeley, is
out at JPL for the mission this month, I spoke with reporters about the
Pathfinder mission. I answered questions about both the spacecraft and
Martian geology. Some of the questions were very thought provoking and
tough. In addition to television stations, we've had newspaper reporters
contacting us these last couple of weeks as well. Each time a new press
conference is held at JPL, we tend to get a few "follow-up" calls to
clarify information or ask more questions, etc. It's my job to be up to
date on how the mission is going and know the answers to their questions.
In this way, I guess I'm kind of a "press secretary" for the Mars
Pathfinder mission to local news people here in Phoenix. It's fun and


[Editor's note: Bridget Landry is the deputy uplink systems engineer of
the Mars Pathfinder.]

by Bridget Landry

July 15, 1997
My schedule has moved around to where I'm almost on a normal workday
again, after a week and a half on the night shift. Not sure whether I like
it or not; it's certainly easier to stay awake, but there is something
special about working in the middle of the night. Do other people feel
this way? Not sure; I've always been a night owl and loved staying up
late, so maybe that's where the magic comes from.

I'm glad, however, that this is only for a month. What I'm doing is
something that I've wanted to do since I was a little girl, and still
there were days last week that I desperately wanted to go home and go to
sleep. How do people do this, day in and day out, especially when it isn't
their dream job? I'm developing a new respect for doctors, police, those
in the fire department and factory workers who work the night shift; it's
a lot harder than it looks.

The project is doing well. We seem to be closing in on the causes of all
these resets of the lander computer, which have been upsetting our work
timetable. The detail coming down in the less-compressed images we've
started taking is spectacular; there are data here for years of study.
Almost makes me think about going back to grad school...


[Editor's note: This status report was prepared by the Office of the
Flight Operations Manager, Mars Pathfinder Project, NASA Jet Propulsion

23 July 1997, 12:00 noon PDT

Two-and-a-half weeks after landing in an ancient Martian flood basin known
as Ares Vallis, Mars Pathfinder has fulfilled all of its primary science
goals and continues to operate nearly flawlessly, the flight team reported
at yesterday's press briefing.

More than 300 megabits of data have been returned just in the last week,
said Dr. Matthew Golombek, Pathfinder project scientist. The rover
continues to follow an aggressive series of maneuvers to study rocks and
soils identified by the science teams for their interesting features. In
addition, the rover's wheel tracks and soil abrasion experiments are
beginning to yield new information about the Martian soil, which appears
to be finer than talcum powder.

Worldwide interest in the mission has peaked, with more than 400 million
hits reported on the Internet to date, said Kirk Goodall, Mars Pathfinder
web engineer. Goodall and David Dubov, Mars Pathfinder webmaster,
constructed 20 Pathfinder mirror sites prior to landing day to service the
public. The most hits received in a single day -- 47 million -- occurred
on July 8, Goodall said, which is more than double the number of hits
received in a single day during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta,

A communications problem experienced last weekend has been resolved,
reported Richard Cook, Mars Pathfinder mission manager. The problem was
associated with ground operations, which has been required to reconfigure
equipment and software on a daily basis, and the necessity of establishing
communications links only during the short periods of time each day when
the lander's transmitter is on.

Scientists are beginning to learn more about the Martian soil by studying
the rover's wheel tracks, asking it to perform soil abrasion experiments
and measuring the material properties of dust and soil through these
wheel-soil interactions. Dr. Henry Moore, a rover scientist with the U.S.
Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA, likened the Martian soil to a very
fine-grained silt that could be found in Nebraska. The Martian particles
are less than 50 microns in diameter, which is finer than talcum powder.

Dust coverage on some of the spacecraft instruments is accumulating at a
very low rate of about 3 percent per day, added Dr. Geoffrey Landis, NASA
Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, which is very close to the team's
original predictions. These measurements also indicated that the dust was
not moving toward the Martian poles right now. Additional study of dust
patterns in the Martian environment may shed more light on the ways in 
which dust leaves the Martian atmosphere.

Dr. Peter Smith, University of Arizona, who is principal investigator of
the lander camera, described more about the Martian landscape, pointing
out a shallow riverbed crossing through the landing site and rocks in the
distance that were washed into this outflow channel from the Martian
highlands. About four distinct impressions left by the airbags were
evident in the images presented today, noted Dr. Tim Parker, a science
team member at JPL. The disturbed soil suggested that the spacecraft was
nearly rolling, rather than bouncing, by the time it came to a stop.
Parker estimated that the spacecraft bounced 15 to 20 times over a
kilometer (6/10ths of a mile) of the landing site before stopping.

Science activities last night took the rover through the "cabbage patch,"
an area of soil in between Scooby Doo and a light-colored rock named Lamb.
The rover will conduct a soil experiment, then turn and move toward Lamb.
Scientists will take measurements of the dark soil near that rock before
moving Sojourner close enough to place its spectrometer against the rock. 

On this Martian day, Sol 18, Earth rose over the Sagan Memorial Station at
8:47 p.m. PDT, July 21. Sunrise was at 11:54 p.m. July 21 and Earth set
occurred yesterday morning (July 22) at 10:25 a.m. PDT.

An audio update on Pathfinder's status can be heard by calling

For further information, please visit our website at


[Editor's note: This status report was prepared by the Office of the
Flight Operations Manager, Mars Surveyor Operations Project, NASA Jet
Propulsion Laboratory]

July 11, 1997

On Tuesday morning, the Surveyor spacecraft and flight team participated
in a live simulation of telecommunications procedures with one of the Deep
Space Network's tracking stations in Madrid, Spain. This readiness test
was designed to prepare both the flight team and tracking station
personnel for Mars mapping operations that will commence on March 15,

During mapping operations, Surveyor will circle the red planet once every
two hours. On each orbit, the spacecraft will pass behind Mars and will
not be able to maintain a communications link with the Earth. Upon entry
and exit into this occultation zone, Surveyor's radio signal will pass
through the thin Martian atmosphere on its way to Earth. An analysis of
the distortion of the signal's strength and tone as it fades and reappears
will enable scientists to determine the atmospheric properties at a
specific location on Mars.

Tuesday's simulation was performed because tracking the spacecraft as its
signal repeatedly passes in and out of the Martian atmosphere requires
practice. During the readiness test, the spacecraft turned its radio
transmitter on and off over the course of a six-hour period in order to
simulate three orbits worth of communications events. Several more of
these readiness tests are scheduled over the course of the next two

After a mission-elapsed time of 246 days from launch, Surveyor is 184.13
million kilometers from the Earth, 15.05 million kilometers from Mars, and
is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity of 21.87 kilometers
per second. This orbit will intercept Mars 62 days from now, slightly
after 6:00 p.m. PDT on September 11th (01:00 UTC, September 12th). The
spacecraft is currently executing the C9 command sequence, and all systems
continue to be in excellent condition.


If this is your first message from the updates-lfm list, welcome!

To catch up on back issues, please visit the following Internet URL:

To subscribe to the updates-lfm mailing list (where this message
came from), send a message to:
In the message body, write these words:
   subscribe updates-lfm


To remove your name from the updates-lfm mailing list, send a
message to:
In the message body, write these words:
   unsubscribe updates-lfm

If you have Web access, please visit our "continuous construction"
site at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars


Footer Bar Graphic
SpacerSpace IconAerospace IconAstrobiology IconWomen of NASA IconSpacer
Footer Info