PART 1: Take a virtual tour of the Pathfinder
TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE PATHFINDER LANDING SITE
Have you met Ren & Stimpy, Yogi or Barnacle Bill? Did you know that your feet would be warm and your head cold if you were standing on Mars right now? If not, then it's time to let your fingers do the walking and take a "virtual" tour of the home of Pathfinder and Sojourner in Ares Vallis. Enjoy video and audio clips from Matt Golombek, Joy Crisp and Ron Greeley as you explore the site. Put on your comfy shoes, grab your hat and head out to: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/virtual After your tour, let us know what you think and send your comments to the discuss-lfm list.
WEATHER WORLDS IS UNDER WAY
Be sure to check out the latest postings to debate-lfm where teachers are discussing their kids' progress on the new Weather Worlds project. Go to: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/teachers Coming soon (next week!) will be a description of Pathfinder's instruments.
[Bridget Landry is the deputy uplink systems engineer on Pathfinder. It is her job to make sure that the computers on the ground talk the same language as those on the spacecraft.]
JOURNAL 1: IT'S SPOOKY AROUND HERE THESE DAYS
Bridget Landry Sept. 24, 1997 It's almost spooky around here these days; so many people have left the project that the floor feels abandoned. Every week we have going away lunches, often for several people. Offices stand empty, or are used for storage, fewer and fewer faces appear at meetings. I have this weird feeling that, six months from now, one of the flight software guys and I will be the only ones left and will be alternating signatures on all the required paperwork. Feels different from the quiet of the night shift; that had a sleeping feeling to it, the natural need for rest between busy days. This feels empty and alone, hollow. And yet the work goes on. I'm learning new jobs, filling in for folks who have left, or are moving into spaces left by others. It's kind of strange, at this point in the mission, to be doing new things, having to repeatedly consult notes. I'm quite proficient at the tasks I did for the prime mission; it's something of a "back to square one" feeling to be learning new tasks that are very different.
[For photos of Bridget's costumes check out her bio at:
JOURNAL 2: OUR COSTUMES WON! Bridget Landry September 5, 1997 Had a blast at World Con! (The World Science Fiction Convention, which was held this year in San Antonio, Texas, over Labor Day weekend.) I had never been to one outside California, so it was a real treat to note the differences and similarities. A lot fewer costumes in the halls (made mine stand out even more!) and a lower ratio of women to men, but a very friendly, welcoming feel to the whole thing. Saw some wonderful panels; I think my favorites were the panel on fairy/folk tales and their meaning and function in society, and the one on torturing your characters. That last was an interesting mix--two of my favorite writers (Lois McMaster Bujold and Elizabeth Moon), two emergency medical technicians, and a pathologist. A fascinating discussion of where in the story such things are appropriate/necessary, and how to gauge the magnitude of the wound to the plot device required (i.e., if you want your hero out of commission for five minutes, you DON'T have him break a leg). The funny thing was that the whole panel was made up of women. Does this say something about these women in particular, women in general, or about our society's perception of women? I was quite disappointed that I wasn't on any panels. I started writing to the convention committee right after last year's World Con, volunteering for costuming and science panels and never heard from them. I wanted to share the science results we've gotten so far, as well as some stories about the team. They even had a panel on Pathfinder, but I wasn't able to get to it; I wanted to see who the people on the panel were, as I didn't recognize any of the names. The science panels I did attend were somewhat uneven--the panelists all seemed to have different ideas about what the topic of discussion should be. Sometimes that makes things quite interesting, but this time it just resulted in confusion. And the big news from the convention, for me at least, was that the Masquerade entry that I was part of tied for Best in Show Workmanship and took Best in Show overall! Our costumes were a group of evil gods and goddesses from a role-playing game that was popular some years ago. (My friends who planned this had done the good gods and goddesses from the same universe some years ago, and those had taken Best in Show, so they were trying for a repeat.) I was only drafted to be in this thing at the end of May, (the other folks had been working on their costumes for months) and had a few other things to do in July (as you might guess!), so Kate and I were really thrilled that we were able to finish AND that the work was good enough to help the group win. The Masquerade itself was small, but there were some wonderfully creative and impressive pieces, and the quality overall was quite high. We shared the workmanship award with "The Samurais from Mars," which were incredibly detailed Samurai costumes made from futuristic metals. There were only two of them but the stage SHOOK when they walked across. Spectacular!
JOURNAL 3: A VISIT TO STAR TREK VOYAGER & DEEP SPACE NINE
Bridget Landry July 24, 1997 I'm so jealous! Some of our team members were invited to visit the sets of Star Trek: Voyager and ST: Deep Space Nine! And I can't TELL you how disappointed that I had to work and wasn't able to go! They were taken all over the sets, and when our team was introduced, the cast and crew gave them a standing ovation! Afterwards, several of the actors asked to have their pictures taken with Pathfinder folks. Quite a reversal of the usual situation! They even got to spend a lot of time talking with Rick Berman, the producer. From all I heard, a wonderful time was had by all. I think Pathfinder and all the Star Trek shows can be seen as somewhat similar phenomena. There's a positive feel to both, a valuing of intelligence and competence, as well as a drive to do things not just "faster, better, cheaper," but RIGHT. The same sort of feeling occurred when Levarr Burton (who played Geordie La Forge on ST: The Next Generation) was here at JPL some months before landing, working on a documentary of Pathfinder. He was surprised by how excited many of our folks were to meet him. He said, "You guys do this for real! I'm just an actor!" But in an environment of cop shows, doctor shows, and sitcoms, the Star Trek series were some of the only ones to have scientists and engineers as positive characters. I know that meant a lot to me, and others have said the same.
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.] September 23, 1997 After 12 days of orbital operations around the red planet, the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft continues to perform its mission flawlessly. Late last night at 11:29 PDT, the spacecraft reached the low point of its seventh orbit and completed its fourth aerobraking pass through the upper Martian atmosphere. This pass occurred at an altitude of 75.1 miles (120.9 km). Air resistance from the atmosphere slowed Surveyor and caused the altitude of the orbit's high point to drop from 33,302 miles (53,595 km) down to 33,143 miles (53,340 km). This amount is comparable to the drop that occurred from the previous pass which occurred on Sunday. The reason for this similarity is that the altitude of the atmospheric pass and the thickness of the atmosphere remained relatively constant between Sunday's aerobraking pass and yesterday's pass. At 9:31 PDT tonight, the flight team will fire Surveyor's tiny rocket thrusters to lower the low point of the orbit deeper into the Martian atmosphere. As a result, the next aerobraking pass will occur on Wednesday night at an altitude of 72.1 miles (116 km). Eventually, the low point of the orbit will be dropped to an altitude where the atmospheric thickness will cause an average slow down of 11 m.p.h. (5 meters per second) per orbit. Currently, the amount of slow down per orbit is about 2.2 m.p.h. (1 meter per second). After a mission-elapsed time of 320 days from launch, Surveyor is 163.54 million miles (263.19 million kilometers) from the Earth and in an orbit around Mars with a period of 44.08 hours. The spacecraft is currently executing the P7 command sequence, and all systems continue to be in excellent condition.
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