PART 1: Next WebChat
PART 2: "Countdown" Rebroadcast
PART 3: April 24 "Cruising Between the Planets"
PART 4: Discovery Channel School Presents "Earth
PART 5: Things are Hectic!
PART 6: Student Activity: Tracking Mars
PART 7: Mars Global Surveyor Flight Status Report
PART 8: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to
On Wednesday, February 26, from 9-10 a.m., PST, Jim Murphy.
As a meteorologist and researcher, Jim's work consists of
developing computer models of the Martian atmosphere, as well as
analyzing data from past spacecraft missions to Mars and
participating in upcoming missions to Mars. Jim's current plans are
to study the weather data sent back by the Mars Pathfinder from the
surface of Mars. Read more about Jim in his biography at:
Please join us! RSVP to Andrea by sending a brief Email note to
email@example.com. This RSVP is very important, as it will
allow us to ensure that the chatroom does not become too crowded.
The Live From Mars program #1, "Countdown," will be rebroadcast on
NASA-TV on February 28 at 2-3 p.m., EST.
NASA TV: Spacenet-2, C-Band, T5, Ch. 9, 69 W, 3880 MHz,
horizontal polarization, audio 6.8 MHz.
NASA TV may preempt scheduled
programming for live agency
For further information on NASA TV go to:
APRIL 24 TELECAST
"Cruising Between the Planets," the next telecast from Passport to
Knowledge, will come to you live from NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, California on April 24.
Several other activities related to Live From Mars will occur over
the next couple of months.
MARCH 2-8: SPACEWEEK is an annual worldwide week of space
activity dubbed the "Earth Day of Space." Spaceweek hopes to inspire
youth about their future and motivate them to excel in science, math
and other disciplines required to explore space. Spaceweek
International Association is offering more than $1000 in grants and
scholarships to teachers and students. Applications will be accepted
through APRIL 1, 1997. A Teacher's Spaceweek Kit is available and
includes classroom activities, student-recognition certificates, a
full-color Spaceweek 1997 poster, and an application for the grant
and scholarship. The kit costs $20 and can be ordered from
Spaceweek International by calling 800-20-SPACE or fax 281-335-
0229. A Spaceweek special events guidebook is also available for
$10. Visit the Spaceweek Web site at: http://www.spaceweek.org
APRIL 20-26: The theme of the National Science Foundation's
NATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY WEEK is "Webs, Wires and
Waves," which relates to communications and communications
technologies (a perfect opportunity to highlight LFM in your school!).
Passport to Knowledge is referenced as a resource for the space
communications activity and Live From Mars and Live From
Antarctica 2 are both cited. A free, hands-on teaching activities
packet developed by the NSF for NSTW '97 includes six, eight-page
booklets presenting activities to help students explore the ways we
communicate. The packet also has a section of more than 80
resources and a poster. To obtain a copy of the packet contact your
nearest NSTW Regional Network affiliate or download it from the
NSTW home page at http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/nstw/start.htm
Send email inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Michael Fluharty at
703-306-1070 or write NSTW, c/o NSF, Room 1245, 4201 Wilson
Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230.
APRIL 20-26: NATIONAL SKY AWARENESS WEEK will provide
opportunities for teachers, students, parents, and home schoolers to
learn how to read the sky, understand its processes and appreciate
the its natural beauty. The NSTA, the National Weather Service, the
National Weather Association, the International Weather Watchers,
and The Weather Channel are among the organizations involved in
this event. For more information contact: Barbara Levine or Michael
Mogil at email@example.com or call
1-800-8CLOUD9. Web site: http://www.weatherworks.com
DISCOVERY CHANNEL SCHOOL PRESENTS "EARTH TO MARS"
In the spring, the Discovery Channel School will present "Earth to
Mars," a series of programs that will help teach students the links
between the mysterious universe and our fragile planet. The program
examines the history of the space age that began with Sputnik and
which is now reaching out to our closest neighbor, Mars. For more
information go to:
Discovery Channel School provides a rich library of online resources
for their programs, including hands-on classroom activities, lesson
plans, connections to academic standards, and links to related sites
on the Web. In addition, a cadre of online educators, known as
subject area managers, lead forum discussions and provide insight
on effective use of the programming in the classroom.
For a complete list of Discovery Channel School programs go to:
[Editor's note: Greg Wilson is a planetary geologist on the Mars
Pathfinder mission and operates a windtunnel at NASA's Ames
Research Center in Mt. View, California.]
THINGS ARE HECTIC!
Greg Wilson - http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/wilson.html
February 20, 1997
Sorry for not keeping my journal up to date, but things have been
busy around here lately. I remember talking a lot about writing
proposals in my first journal, and now I am happy (Ecstatic!) to
report that my proposal to do atmospheric science on Mars
Pathfinder was accepted. And to top it all off, a second proposal
submitted last April was accepted right after the Christmas
holidays. So now I am pretty busy just keeping everything going.
The Mars Pathfinder (MPF) team is great. You can examine our
abstracts on the MPF Web page
(http://mpfwww.arc.nasa.gov/default.html).We have already planned
measurements for the first seven sols (Martian days) and are really
excited about some of the new measurements we will be making. It
is also a great privilege to work with some of the most
knowledgeable Mars atmospheric scientists in the world, and
especially Al Seiff, who has measured the upper atmosphere of every
planet we have sent spacecraft to (Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter,
and in the future Titan!).
Our excitement is tempered by some problems we have to overcome.
The offset on the pressure sensor has changed since its initial
calibration. An offset is a number that you add or subtract from your
instrument measurement before you convert it into pressure (this
number is also a function of instrument temperature). So what we
have been doing during the cruise phase of the mission is to measure
the offset periodically.
These measurements are called health checks (HC), and nine of them
have been performed during the mission thus far. Two weeks ago,
while down at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), I had the chance
to participate in HC#8. It was really pretty cool. The command was
sent to the spacecraft to perform the HC, and two minutes later
(equal to the round-trip light time) data started appearing on the
computer console in front of me. We also got a three-day briefing on
the spacecraft and all of its subsystems. I can't say enough about the
MPF flight team at JPL, they are super!
Back at the Planetary Aeolian Laboratory things are hectic. Wind
tunnel experiments of Martian dust threshold are continuing. I will
be traveling to Houston, TX next month to present two posters and
give a talk on the research results of the past year (all of which I
have yet to prepare!).
My new proposal, just funded with Dr. Bruce White, will be looking at
atmospheric stability effects on particle threshold under Martian
conditions. When the sun heats up the surface of Mars, the
atmosphere near the surface heats up and rises; we call this
condition unstable. These rising parcels of atmosphere add some
additional shear energy to the wind. We have previously only
considered wind shear (neutral) and neglected the additional shear
when looking at particle threshold, but what we think will happen
when we include this effect is that it should take less wind shear to
move the particles. The contrary should also be true (stable). If
upper the upper-level atmosphere is cooler, the parcels will fall,
dampening the shear stress and increase the wind shear need to
move the particles. So the results of this experiments should be
Finally, we are in the first stages of testing the two wind sensors
on the Mars 98 mission. Dr. David Crisp, Colin Mahoney, and Rudy
Vargas, all from JPL, have been at the Mars Wind Tunnel twice during
the past two months to test the "proof of concept" wind sensors.
Things look pretty good so far. The sensor is using a lot less power
then the MPF wind sensor, and can measure winds up to 95 meters
per second (that's about 200 miles per hour)! So that has been a lot
of fun. I really enjoy the interaction I have with the scientists and
engineers. Whenever you do an instrument test there is a "middle-
ground" where theory (science) and application (engineering) meet.
After putting in a few long days together, you can really appreciate
the contribution each person makes to the team.
On the personal side things are going pretty well. Now that the
weather is better I have been flying my radio-controlled plane on the
weekends or at least until it crashes! My girlfriend and I are hoping
to do some whale watching in the next couple of weeks. I have not
taken much time off since summer vacation, and am hopeful of
taking some time off before July, when I will participate in the MPF
prime mission. More on that in my next journal.
STUDENT ACTIVITY: TRACKING MARS ACROSS THE SKY
A wooden yardstick, a protractor, some thread, a couple of washers
and a few other materials are all that are needed for your students
to accurately chart the position of Mars across the sky. By taking
repeated measurements over a period of several weeks, students
will be able to detect the retrograde motion of Mars. This exercise
will entail students to create a rudimentary instrument to measure
the angular distance between Mars and at least two bright, nearby
For further information go to:
MARS GLOBAL SURVEYOR FLIGHT STATUS REPORT
February 7, 1997
[Editor's note: This status report was prepared by the Office of the
Flight Operations Manager, Mars Surveyor Operations Project, Jet
Today, the flight team sent a command to Surveyor to activate the
Mars Orbiter Camera. Over the weekend, the camera team will
collect temperature data from the instrument in order to determine
the best focus setting for a focus check test that will be performed
on Tuesday, February 11.
Earlier in the week, the flight team completed calibration activities
on the gyroscopes in the inertial measurement unit. These
gyroscopes are devices that provide critical data to the flight
computers regarding Surveyor's pointing orientation in space. Each
one of the three gyroscopes on the spacecraft has a primary and
backup data channel.
Over the course of a several day period, the spacecraft team
examined data from the backup gyroscope channels in order to
understand the slight variations between the in-flight performance
and the performance as specified by the manufacturer. The
knowledge of these minor variations was incorporated into
Surveyor's flight software. This activity was performed to improve
the spacecraft's ability to maintain a proper orientation in the event
that the backup gyroscope channels are used.
Throughout this past week, the magnetometer science instrument
has also been active. The data collected during the week will provide
the Magnetometer team with an opportunity to conduct further
calibrations on the instrument. In addition, the data will provide the
team with an opportunity to study the solar wind. This "wind" is a
stream of protons and electrons that is constantly blown out from
the Sun at a speed of 100,000 kilometers per second.
After a mission-elapsed time of 92 days from launch, Surveyor is
21.51 million kilometers from the Earth, 107.49 million kilometers
from Mars, and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity
of 29.31 kilometers per second. This orbit will intercept Mars on
September 12, 1997. The spacecraft is currently executing the C4
command sequence, and all systems continue to be in excellent
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