PART 1: Sign up for October 23 Web Chat Now
Planetary Geologist Greg Wilson will give us an update on the Mars Pathfinder meteorology experiment (i.e. the weather on Mars!) on Thursday, October 23, 10:30 a.m., PST. In addition, he will fill us in on what's happening with the seemingly silent Pathfinder. Be sure to have your students read Greg's bio and journals BEFORE the chat! Go to: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/wilson.html RSVP soon to: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW CHALLENGE QUESTION
Remember, Challenge Questions are now an in-class activity, which means that you don't submit your answers. Questions will be posted here, in the LFM Updates, once a week for the next four weeks. (This will take us right up to the next live broadcast on November 13, "LFM #5: Today on Mars.") The answer to each Challenge Question will appear the following week in LFM Updates, along with a new question. Last week CQ#1: Where and what was the lowest Martian temperature ever recorded? Answer: The temperature was -275 degrees Fahrenheit, recorded during Pathfinder's EDL, the July 4 Entry, Descent and Landing sequence, at 80 km above the surface of Mars. CQ#2: NASA's Mars experts are tracking temperature, wind speed and direction. To do that accurately, they place the meteorology mast at the end of one of the solar panels. Why do they do that, rather than closer to the main body of the spacecraft? Hint #1: Why do terrestrial weathercasters put their instruments in the middle of open fields? Check here for the answer and a new question next week!
SLIDER PUZZLE & CONCENTRATION GAMES OFFER CHALLENGES
If you and your students enjoy solving puzzles then you've come to the right place! Two new games have been added to the LFM site under Featured Events (http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/events) AND Kids' Corner (http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/kids/index.html) By flipping tiles to find a matching Mars-related image, Pathfinder Concentrate! tests your total recall. The Pathfinder Slider Puzzle has you scrambling against the clock as you rearrange sliding tiles to decipher a Mars mystery image. Have fun and let us know how you like the games by posting a message to discuss-lfm.
IT'S STILL NOT TOO LATE TO PARTICIPATE IN WEATHER WORLDS!
For those of you who haven't yet signed up, it's not too late to participate in the next phase of the Weather Worlds project! In Phase 2, Data Collection and Analysis, any class may sign up to contribute one or more sets of weather data on a daily basis for one or other (or both, if they have time!) of the two weeks between November 3-14, whether you participated in Weather Worlds Phase 1 or not. For additional details go to: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/events/weatherworlds.html Weather Worlds Update-- The next deadline has been changed to Tuesday, October 21. Please review all plans by that time and submit your peer review by noon, PST to: PTKWW@edc.org. Please DO NOT submit reviews to the debate-lfm list. More than 50 plans have been received from classrooms around the country for the Weather Worlds peer review process! Teachers and students, you've done a great job! It looks as though this has been quite a successful activity so far! We are looking forward to the debate in late October.
WATCH LIVE AND RECORDED VIDEO FROM THE LFM SITE
The Quest project's Learning Technologies Channel is now broadcasting special events, including live (and taped) Passport to Knowledge programs and live feeds from NASA Select TV. For details on how to watch the October 30 (Destination Mars) and November 13 (Today on Mars) Live From Mars broadcasts over the Internet go to: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/video/news To view or listen to either live or archived events you will need to download and install RealMedia Player software, which is free from Progressive Networks.
REMINDER: PBS SATELLITE COORDINATE CHANGE
On October 11, PBS began using a new satellite and coordinates. These changes will affect the previously distributed information for both fall '97 Live From Mars programs. The October 30 and November 13 programs will be carried at 9:30-10:00 a.m., PST (test) and the actual one-hour program from 10-11 a.m., PST on: PBS' new coordinates for Live From Mars programs: GE-3, Ku-band 87 degrees West longitude transponder 20, vertical polarity 12100 Mhz, audio on 6.2, 6.8 Mhz This is the new PBS Adult Learning Services transponder. It is analog (not digital) and not scrambled. Note: NASA-TV satellite coordinates remain the same at: GE-2 85 degrees West longitude transponder 9C, vertical polarity 3880 Mhz, audio on 6.8 Mhz
MARS GLOBAL SURVEYOR FLIGHT STATUS REPORT
October 14, 1997 [Editor's note: This status report was prepared jointly by the Public Information Office and the Office of the Flight Operations Manager, Mars Surveyor Operations Project, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.] The lowest point of Mars Global Surveyor's aerobraking orbit has been raised temporarily and aerobraking has been suspended while the flight team analyzes data to understand why one of the spacecraft's two solar panels, which did not fully deploy, exhibited unexpected motion during a recent dip through the upper Martian atmosphere. The spacecraft's current 35-hour orbit around Mars, which was taking it down to 75 miles (121 kilometers) above the Martian surface during each of its closest passes over the planet, has been raised to 105 miles (170 kilometers). The flight team, composed of members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and the Lockheed Martian Astronautics facility in Denver, raised the orbit on October 12 by performing a brief 5.15-mile-per-hour (2.3-meter-per-second) propulsive burn at the farthest point of the spacecraft's orbit around Mars. The panel's performance has had no effect on spacecraft power. "We're taking a hiatus from aerobraking for the next few weeks while we study data to try to model and understand the apparent deflection of the solar panel that never fully deployed and latched in place after launch," said Glenn E. Cunningham, Mars Global Surveyor project manager. "This delay in the aerobraking process will probably change the spacecraft's final mapping orbit from the originally planned 2:00 p.m. passage over the planet's equator in local Mars time to another time, and we are studying several other orbits that will give us nearly the same outstanding science results." Preliminary data from the panel indicates that it has moved past what would have been its fully deployed and latched position, Cunningham said. In addition, the panel has shown some movement rather than maintaining its rigid position during aerobraking. These changes occurred on October 6, during the closest approach of the spacecraft's fifteenth orbit around Mars, when the density of the Martian atmosphere doubled unexpectedly. During the next few weeks, the flight team will leave the spacecraft's orbit in the current, 35-hour revolution around Mars, which will not take the spacecraft through the upper atmosphere, while they analyze data and simulate conditions in the atmosphere to understand the behavior of the solar panel. This hiatus also means the spacecraft's solar panels will not be reconfigured for each close pass over Mars, but will remain in the normal cruise position. "We can't explain yet what has happened," Cunningham said. "We saw the unlatched panel move past the latched-up position, and it remains past that point now. By raising the spacecraft's orbit above the upper atmosphere, the panel should not shift further because it will not be exposed to the aerodynamic forces of the Martian atmosphere." Several other mapping orbits are available to Surveyor to carry out its science objectives. The flight team will explore alternatives in the next few weeks to accomplish the lowest orbit possible and possibly achieve a "Sun-synchronous" orbit that will allow the spacecraft to fly over the Martian equator at the same local solar time each orbit. These Sun-synchronous orbits are designed so that the spacecraft's instruments always see Mars at the same lighting angle on every pass over the surface. "As we step back from aggressive aerobraking temporarily, we will have the opportunity to study the situation until we fully understand it," Cunningham said. "We will take advantage of this opportunity to return some spectacular data from the camera and laser altimeter. The thermal emission spectrometer and magnetometer also will continue to collect data while we remain in this holding pattern." The Mars Global Surveyor atmospheric advisory group reported that the Martian atmosphere has more than doubled in thickness in the last week. The spacecraft is designed to withstand more than a 50 percent increase in atmospheric density, but began showing movement in the solar panel October 6th, at the low point and start of the fifteenth orbit. After a mission-elapsed time of 341 days from launch, Surveyor is 172.26 million miles (277.22 million kilometers) from the Earth and in an orbit around Mars with a period of 35.4 hours. The spacecraft is currently executing the P20 command sequence, and all systems continue to be in excellent condition. The Surveyor flight team would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Cassini flight team on a spectacular launch and to offer our best wishes for a successful mission.
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