PART 1: WebChat Schedule in the Work
WEBCHAT SCHEDULE IN THE WORKS
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: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/events/interact.html 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/events/interact.html
CREATING YOUR OWN 3-D STEREO IMAGES
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 email@example.com for posting on the Kids Corner Web page at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/kids/index.html
MPF TEAM JOURNAL #1: AMBASSADOR FOR MARS
[Editor's note: John Moreau is the librarian and archivist of the Space Photography Lab at Arizona State University in Phoenix.] by John Moreau http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/moreau.html 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 rewarding.
MPF TEAM JOURNAL #2: GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
[Editor's note: Bridget Landry is the deputy uplink systems engineer of the Mars Pathfinder.] by Bridget Landry http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/landry.html 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...
MARS PATHFINDER MISSION STATUS
[Editor's note: This status report was prepared by the Office of the Flight Operations Manager, Mars Pathfinder Project, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.] 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, Georgia. 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 1-800-391-6654. For further information, please visit our website at http://mpfwww.jpl.nasa.gov
MARS GLOBAL SURVEYOR FLIGHT STATUS
[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, 1998. 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 months. 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.
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