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UPDATE # 16 - January 3, 1997

PART 1: NASA TV Schedule
PART 2: WebChats Resume
PART 3: Wearing Many Hats
PART 4: Roving for Rocks on the Red Planet
PART 5: Mars Pathfinder Update



NASA TV SCHEDULE

The first Live From Mars television broadcast "Countdown," will be
reshown on NASA TV on January 6, 16, 22 and 30 at the following
times: 2-3 p.m., 5-6 p.m., 8-9 p.m., 11 p.m. - 12 a.m., 2-3 a.m. All
times are Eastern. NASA TV may preempt scheduled programming for
live agency events.

Many cable television systems receive and redistribute NASA-TV.
Consider contacting your local system to see if they might
redistribute NASA-TV during the Live From Mars events. For those
with access to satellite reception, NASA-TV is carried on Spacenet
2, transponder 5, Channel 9, C-Band, located at 69 degrees West
longitude, with horizontal polarization. Frequency is 3880 MHz with
audio on 6.8 MHz.


WEBCHATS RESUME

Wednesday January 8, 9 a.m., PST: Chats resume with Steve Stolper, software flight engineer on the Mars Pathfinder project. Join us! Weekly WebChats offer an opportunity for your students to virtually meet the people on the front lines of the Mars exploration adventure. Teachers have reported that the chats really enliven students' enthusiasm. Our guest next week will be Steve Stolper. One of Steve's jobs is to write the set of instructions that allows the computer to control the Pathfinder spacecraft. To best prepare, please have your students read Steve's biography before the WebChat:http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/stolper.html To join in the fun, point your Web browser to http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/events/interact.html to follow the links to the *moderated* chatroom for experts. If you plan to participate in this event, please RSVP to Andrea by sending a brief email note to andream@quest.arc.nasa.gov telling her that you plan to join the session. This RSVP is very important, as it will allow us to ensure that the chatroom does not become overly crowded. A WebChat schedule for January will be posted shortly.


[Editor's note: John Moreau is the data manager of the Space Photography Laboratory at Arizona State University in Phoenix. Being the "data manager" means that John is responsible for managing, organizing and archiving all planetary data that he receives at his facility.] WEARING MANY HATS John Moreau - http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/moreau.html January 3, 1997 Whenever the general public or the media call or come to our department for the latest information on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) or Mars Pathfinder missions, they always end up here at the Space Photography Laboratory (SPL). Our name is kind of deceiving; we are a laboratory -- graduate students as well as postdoctoral researchers use our facilities all the time -- but we also function as a library and a "museum" of sorts. As one of 17 NASA Regional Planetary Image Facilities in the world, our job is to store the data returned by spacecraft. These data are available for everyone to use in the facility. Since these data are essentially space history in the making, we also serve as a type of archive, or museum. Data sets are preserved using archive-quality materials and equipment like acid-free papers and special transparent sleeves for hard-copy photographs and temperature and humidity control systems for the entire lab. When the data from the Mars missions are returned and distributed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, they will end up here, just like data from the Viking missions in the 1970s. We've already begun to collect whatever information we can about both missions, as well as the failure of Mars 96, to make available to the public and the press, and especially to teachers and students who visit often. On November 7 professors and staff, as well as a reporter from a local newspaper, came to the SPL and gathered around our TV in anticipation of the MGS launch. We were all disappointed by the "scrubbed" launch the day before and were hoping that this one would be successful. I had set up the VCR to record the launch as well as the press conference that would follow. Then I had to go to my planetary geology class, so I would not be able to see it "live" like everyone else. When I came back, I learned that the launch was successful. The reporter asked questions of some of our research professionals about the logistics of Mars exploration. Because Mars Pathfinder launched in the middle of the night, we didn't have an audience crowding into the lab to watch as with MGS. But we still recorded the launch to be played back upon request the next day. We probably played it for people at least a dozen times the next day. Lately, I've been trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can about both missions -- the instruments flying on both spacecraft, the logistics of orbital entry for MGS and aerobraking for Pathfinder, what experiments the rover Sojourner will carry out on the surface of Mars, and more -- in order to be able to talk about both missions to teachers and classes that visit the SPL. We've probably had about 10 classes of roughly 30 kids between third and eighth grade come in since the MGS launch. They always have lots of good questions about the missions and about Martian geology and meteorology in general. Sometimes, these questions are tough! I do my best to answer them and encourage them to learn more on their own, by using the Internet for example. It's great to watch them get more excited about science through what they learn here from us. Adults are enthusiastic about Mars exploration, too. On December 14 we held our second annual Open House. About 50 teachers from around the state came to participate in an all-day workshop/open house on planetary geology, which included information on missions to Mars, both past and present. We gave away a Mars globe and the Viking 20th Anniversary Multimedia CD-ROM as door prizes. It was a fun event but it was hard work! I began organizing it, with the help of others in September, but we all wished we had more time! The teachers seemed very appreciative and enthusiastic, however, and the work was well worth it. Hopefully, they will take information and activities back to their classes to teach them more about space exploration. I'm at work right now while writing this. Not all of my job consists of public education/outreach though. As a librarian here, I have to make sure that data sets are easy to find and organized, that missing images, documentation or maps are accounted for or replaced, that the entire SPL collection is documented and located in places that are logical and consistent (i.e. easy to find) and that lab "materials" (from paper to data sets to computers) are available for researchers. Today I'm working on a continuing project to catalog all of our books and nonserial publications for entry into a database that I'm creating in Filemaker Pro. Currently, we have no established system for finding books by subject. Imagine going into your local library and asking for a book on craters and being told that the book was "somewhere on those shelves, mixed in randomly with hundreds of other books on many different topics"! Although we have fewer books and publications than a public or school library, we still have a lot and that's kind of what it's like! So, I've decided to organize this collection into a database where you can search by a topic and find exactly which books we have and where they are located. When this is done, people should be able to access it via the Web from their homes or classrooms. This will take some time! Before I start this for today, I'll check the Web for updates on both Mars missions (we post the latest news in the hall for everyone to see) and also update out information on the Galileo mission. We are creating a "digital catalog" of press-release images from the Galileo science teams as soon as they become available. The more information and images I can get on current missions, the better I can inform visitors to the SPL about what's going on in space science. I think I wear many different hats around here: student, librarian, public-relations specialist, teacher, archivist, lab assistant, sometimes planetary geologist (I've been asked to help "do science" once or twice on Galileo). The job is definitely never boring! Well, got to get back to work! Happy New Year!
[Editor's note: Matt Golombek is the project scientist for the Mars Pathfinder mission. Following is an excerpt of an article he wrote for Eos Vol. 77, No. 49, December 3, 1996. For the complete article go to: http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/eosgolombek.html] ROVING FOR ROCKS ON THE RED PLANET: THE MARS PATHFINDER MISSION Mars is the most Earth-like planet in our solar system. After Earth, it is the only other planet that is capable of supporting life. Recent scientific evidence suggests that life did once exist on Mars and makes the planet a doubly exciting target for exploration. Mars is a unique terrestrial planet. Evidence suggests it underwent major climatic changes and has a geologic record of surface rocks that spans the entire history of the solar system. The geologic record suggests that early climate on Mars was warmer and wetter, and that liquid water a requirement for life may have been present. Studying the geological, climatological, and exobiological conditions of Mars may provide the data science needs to address the almost theological question of: "Are we alone in the universe?"
[Editor's note: This status report on the Mars Pathfinder mission was prepared by the Public Information Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.] MARS PATHFINDER MISSION STATUS December 18, 1996 Sojourner, a 10-kilogram (22-pound) rover tucked away on a petal of the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft, got a 'wake up' call on Dec. 17 from flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After waking up, Sojourner conducted an internal health check and sent data back to the flight team that all was well. The Pathfinder flight team was ecstatic with the rover data, which showed that all systems within the rover were operating normally. In addition, data from the rover's main science instrument -- the alpha proton x-ray spectrometer -- showed that it was operating properly. "The rover woke up, did its internal health check, sent the lander its status data and went back to sleep, all as planned," said Art Thompson, rover operations team member. "All subsystems were verified as being in good health." Pathfinder continues to perform very well on its 500 million- kilometer (310 million-mile) journey to Mars, the team reported. Currently the spacecraft is 4 million kilometers (2.5 million miles) from Earth, traveling at a speed of 3.1 kilometers per second (7,000 miles per hour). Its destination, Mars, is currently about 190 million kilometers (118 million miles) away. All temperatures and power utilization of the lander and cruise stage remain at their predicted levels for this phase of the mission. The spacecraft was spun down from 12.3 rpm to 2 rpm on Dec. 11. Flight controllers first instructed the spacecraft to turn to a Sun angle of 50 degrees and an Earth angle of 32 degrees. This allowed them to use all four operating Sun sensors. The spacecraft executed the commanded spin down to the normal cruise spin rate of 2 rpm in steps of 2 rpm at a time. Once the normal spin rate was established, the team turned on the spacecraft's star scanner on Dec. 12. Star scanner data allows the spacecraft to establish full, three-axis knowledge of its orientation in space. This is the normal cruise attitude control mode and the one in which all trajectory correction maneuvers will be performed. While Sun sensor #5 continues to work well after a software fix, the flight team continues to investigate the cause of the loss of Sun sensor head #4. The team expects to reach a likely conclusion on the cause of the problem within the next month or two. Dave Gruel, Pathfinder flight director at JPL, conducted the Dec.16 health check of the lander science instruments, including the atmospheric sensor instrument and meteorology (ASI/MET) package and the imager. Temperature, pressure and accelerometer readings from the atmospheric/meteorology instrument verified it was in normal working order. Power and dark current measurements received from the imager while it was imaging the darkness around it, confirmed that the instrument was working properly, Gruel said. Richard Cook, Pathfinder mission operations manager at JPL, reported today that Pathfinder has been fully checked out for this phase of the mission and that all subsystems are "go" for a successful seven-month cruise to Mars. The next major in-flight event will be Pathfinder's first trajectory correction maneuver, which is scheduled for Jan. 4, 1997.
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