UPDATE # 18 - January 23, 1997
PART 1: Upcoming WebChat
PART 2: Mars Expert to Appear on Kids' TV
PART 3: Next LFM Broadcast
PART 4: Student Stumpers
PART 5: Help From Other Teachers
PART 6: Meeting LFM Teachers & Staff
PART 7: Mars Global Surveyor Flight Status
***Tuesday, January 28, 9 a.m., PST***
Next week's Live From Mars chat will feature Anita Dodson, a
graphics communicator (also known as a graphic artist or graphic
designer). Anita figures out the best way to put words, images and
colors together so that it grabs your attention and sends a specific
message. She does this by designing and producing brochures,
flyers, mission decals, posters, presentations, exhibits, articles and
even pages on the World Wide Web. She especially enjoys being
creative and trying new things.
Weekly WebChats offer an opportunity for your students to virtually
meet the people on the front lines of the Mars exploration adventure.
This includes the entire spectrum of people that it takes to make the
Mars team work-- from scientists, engineers and programmers to
data librarians, photographers and graphics communicators.
Teachers have reported that the chats really enliven students'
To best prepare, please have your students read Anita's biography
before the WebChat:
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
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
MARS EXPERT TO APPEAR ON CBS KIDS' SHOW
LFM expert and WebChat guest Mary Urquhart will appear on a
nationally broadcast CBS television show called "News for Kids"
on Saturday morning February 1. Teachers, be sure to tape this
segment for your students! Many of your kids "talked" with Mary
during her January 15 WebChat. Mary is also featured on "The
Team" page of the LFM Web site at:
NEXT LFM BROADCAST
NASA-TV plans to broadcast the next Live From Mars broadcast,
"Cruising Between the Planets," on April 24 from 1-2 p.m., EST. If
you depend on your local PBS station you should check your local
listings or call your local station for coverage information.
STUDENT STUMPERS: KID-CENTERED CHALLENGE QUESTIONS
Here is an easy activity that you could do with your students
You may remember Challenge Questions, the series of puzzles we
asked in the fall. They'll be back in March, before our live TV
program. But for now, a great series of student-centered questions
has risen to the top.
Student Stumpers challenge kids to make riddles for other kids to
solve. Whether students create a question or email the author with a
proposed answer, Student Stumpers can be a terrific way for
students to meet like-minded kids all over the world. This activity
includes safe email tips for students and teachers.
Real examples include Taylor, who queries:
> Can Mars be viewed from Earth with the naked eye?
> When is the best time to look for it?
Or Thabet from Egypt, who asks a really hard one:
> Within a couple of million of years, Mars the Red Planet might
have another name, maybe the 5th ringed planet in the Solar System
or the "asteroid-like" planet. Why will it be called these uncommon
Please consider involving your students in the Student Stumper
festival happening now.
HELP FROM OTHER TEACHERS
A favorite part of Live From Mars is meeting the wonderful teachers
who are doing this project. Many people who are currently active in
LFM have done similar projects here before. They know the ropes
and have learned how to make these projects work in real
classrooms. So if you are a bit confused or feeling alone or
struggling to make LFM work, please consider our Live From Mars
mentors. Their friendly experience can help you over the hump.
As well, we welcome additional LFM mentor volunteers.
Please visit the LFM mentors' page for more details.
OTHER WAYS TO MEET TEACHERS & LFM STAFF
Live From Mars is special because of the connections that form
between people. Not only connections between students and NASA
experts, but bonds between teachers and LFM staff. If you are not a
part of these conversations, you may be missing something of great
value. Not only can other teachers help you figure out things, they
can be a sounding board for your brainstorms. As well, the LFM
team is easily influenced. Your ideas may sway the entire direction
of the project (as past history demonstrates).
There are two different ways to participate: chats and discuss-lfm.
Every week, two, hourly chats are scheduled. Each Thursday at
either noon or 3:00 p.m., Pacific (schedule alternates), folks gather
in the chatroom for an hour. Also, each Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.
Pacific, a special home-school forum is hosted by master home
schooler Gayle Remisch, from London, Ontario, Canada. For more
info, see the WebChat section of
In addition, discuss-lfm offers teachers an opportunity to send more
composed messages. Last month, LFM people contributed over 120
gems in the vigorous discussion. Many people channel this
information directly to their mailboxes. If 200+ messages are too
many for you, an option exists for a digest. The digest sends just
one daily message with all of the day's traffic gathered together. To
participate, send an email message to:
In the message body, choose one of the lines below to send:
If you prefer, you may also take part in the discuss-lfm group via
the Web. In that case, point your browser to:
Please do consider joining us. You may learn a bit and make some
[Editor's note: This status report on the Mars Global Surveyor
mission was prepared by the Office of the Flight Operations
Manager, Mars Surveyor Operations, Jet Propulsion
MARS GLOBAL SURVEYOR FLIGHT STATUS REPORT
Friday, 17 January 1997
On Monday of this week, Surveyor's flight team activated the Mars
Orbiter Camera in preparation for four days of star imaging. Once
per afternoon from Tuesday through Friday, the spacecraft turned to
point the camera at a cluster of stars called the Pleiades. Over the
course of one hour on each imaging day, the camera observed stars
within the cluster in order to perform focus checks.
Communications with the spacecraft during star imaging was not
possible because the star-pointed orientation resulted in pointing the
high-gain antenna away from the Earth. Consequently, all of the
data from the camera were stored on Surveyor's solid-state
recorders. These data were transmitted back to Earth approximately
three hours after the conclusion of each day's imaging. The daily
playback of camera data required 49 minutes. During that time,
Surveyor transmitted 250 megabits of data at a downlink rate of
85,333 bits per second.
Next week, the onboard flight computer will activate heaters in the
camera that will bake the epoxy structure of the camera to remove
residual moisture. A set of four more star images will be taken after
the bakeout period ends in late March. The star images taken this
week will serve as a reference to assess the focusing capability of
the camera after the bakeout.
Other activities this week included a two-hour radio-science
calibration that occurred late in the evening on Wednesday. This test
involved using the spacecraft's ultra-stable oscillator to control the
frequency or "tone" of Surveyor's radio transmissions to the Earth.
Normally, the spacecraft listens to a signal transmitted from the
Earth as a reference to set the tone of the signal transmitted to Earth.
The oscillator functions as an electronic clock that can precisely
control the tone of Surveyor's signal without listening to the Earth-
based reference signal.
Future tests of the oscillator will occur approximately every other
week until the spacecraft reaches Mars. These tests are important
because a stable radio signal as controlled by the oscillator will be
critical toward the collection of scientific data at Mars.
After a mission elapsed time of 71 days from launch, Surveyor is
16.05 million kilometers from the Earth, 136.00 million kilometers
from Mars, and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity
of 30.85 kilometers per second. This orbit will intercept Mars on
September 12, 1997. All systems on the spacecraft continue to be in
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