UPDATE # 23 - March 6, 1997
PART 1: Upcoming WebChat
PART 2: Planetary Explorer Toolkit Nears Completion
PART 3: New Project: Shuttle Team Online
PART 4: Travel, Travel, Travel!
PART 5: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to
- Tuesday, March 11, 9-10 a.m., PDT, Bridget Landry
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
- Wednesday, March 19, 10-11 a.m., PDT, Pieter Kallemyn
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
- Tuesday, March 25, 9-10 a.m., PDT, Ted Roush
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA
BRIDGET LANDRY teaches computers on the ground to speak the same
language as the Mars Pathfinder. As the deputy uplink systems
engineer, Bridget takes very complex, but general computer
programs and makes them understand all the commands that the
Pathfinder knows. The people on the science and instrument teams
then use this tool to build sets of commands called sequences,
which, when sent to the spacecraft, accomplish specific tasks, like
taking pictures, etc.
PIETER KALLEMEYN is one of three navigators for the Mars
Pathfinder, a 900-kg unmanned spacecraft who's final destination is
more than 150 million miles away. Pieter and the other navigators
are responsible for determining where the spacecraft is, predicting
where it will go in the near future, and determining the means to
correct the path in order for it to reach the surface of Mars.
TED ROUSH is a planetary scientist who studies the composition of
solid surfaces throughout the solar system. He is interested in the
minerals and rock types found on the surfaces of rocky bodies and
the various ices found on the surfaces of icy bodies. His work
includes telescopic and spacecraft observations, laboratory work
and computer calculations. He use telescopes located on Earth and on
spacecraft to measure the sunlight that is reflected from the
surfaces of objects in the solar system.
Read more about Bridget, Pieter and Ted by going to their
biographies at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team
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.
PLANET EXPLORER TOOLKIT NEARS COMPLETION
In a few short weeks classes all over the world will have the
opportunity to put into action the special instrument package
devised by a group of dedicated P.E.T. Lead Classrooms -- students
and educators, who, during January and February, helped devise what
they think might be the best Planet Explorer Toolkit. From March 3-
14, the group will finalize the specific instruments of the Toolkit,
and will do so with the assistance David Mittman, a flight engineer
and mission planner of the Mars Pathfinder mission. Your class may
participate in online discussions with experts via our special email
list called "debate-lfm" and may join the discussion at any time
during the activity. Students from grades two through high school
have been actively participating since December!
Sanjay Limaye, planetary scientist advisor who guided the P.E.T.
Lead Classrooms throughout January and February, recently noted
that this phase of the activity is called the Critical Design Review.
Once consensus is reached, classes will gather their Toolkit
instruments, prepare for their data collection "mission" and "launch"
their instrument package to record data on a local site convenient to
Whether you and your students have been monitoring the P.E.T. online
collaborative activity or have just recently become involved in the
Live From Mars project, all classes are invited to join in the next
phase, launch and data collection, by serving as a member of the
Planetary Data Input team. In just two weeks, you will gather the
instruments needed for your Toolkit, determine the best area (nearby
your school/site) for data collection, and collect data that uniquely
describe your region.
All participating groups will submit their data (via email or web-
based form), which will in turn become part of an online database
and the basis for further interpretive activities.
More details about P.E.T. are available online at the Live From Mars
Web site under "Featured Events." Following is a schedule of key
- By March 14: Reach consensus on the contents of the Toolkit
- March 15-April 4: Assemble Toolkit, initiate Launch phase and
collect planetary data on site
- By April 4: Submit data via email or web-based form
- By April 11: Passport to Knowledge will select winning classes
(one per grade-level range: elementary, middle and high school)
on the basis of their overall involvement in the P.E.T. activity.
These classes will receive special honors and one class will be
selected to participate in the April 24 live broadcast. Each of
the selected classes will receive a special award allowing
them unique ways to participate in NASA's missions to the Red
A special enrichment activity entitled "Where in the World is this
P.E.T. Mystery Site?" will engage students in using Toolkit data to
determine the location of five mystery sites. This activity will be
detailed in future updates. Classes will be invited to submit
answers through May 9.
If you have questions about the P.E.T. activity send email to Jan Wee:
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NEW PROJECT: SHUTTLE TEAM ONLINE
An exciting NASA Learning Technologies project called "Shuttle
Team Online" has just been launched. STO will be active from March
through May 1997. You and your students will join the men and
women who make the space shuttle fly and learn about their diverse
and exciting careers.
We'll peek behind the scenes as these folks train astronauts, prepare
the shuttle between missions, launch the shuttle, successfully
execute the mission from Mission Control and safely land the
shuttle. The focus will be on STS-83, a 16-day microgravity lab
scheduled for launch April 3, 1997.
This project will provide many opportunities to interact with these
enthusiastic people through email exchange and frequent live
network events such as WebChats.
As the project develops, the best way to stay up to date is to join
the mail list. Send an email to: email@example.com
In the message body, write exactly these words:
Visit our Web site at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/shuttle
[Editor's note: Peter is a member of the science teams that plan, and
will analyze images sent back by the Mars Orbiter Camera on Mars
Global Surveyor, as well as the Orbiter and Lander cameras on the
'98 Mars Surveyor Orbiter and Lander. He also works on other
planetary missions such as the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous
Mission, the Galileo mission to Jupiter, and the Cassini mission to
be launched to Saturn.]
TRAVEL, TRAVEL, TRAVEL!
Peter Thomas: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/journals/thomas
February 16 -26, 1997
Most scientists working on planetary spacecraft are involved with
more than one mission, so our attention, and travel, frequently are
divided many ways. This journal is written just after returning from
the latest trip.
February 16: Fly to Phoenix, Arizona for a Galileo workshop on the
satellites of Jupiter, Callisto and Europa, at the Geology Department
of Arizona State University. After arrival, review materials I am
supposed to present for Paul Helfenstien, who is unable to attend
(another typical activity: sharing presentations to cut down on
travel), on whether morning frost can be detected on Callisto.
February 17: Meeting on Callisto; large photos recently sent back by
Galileo are spread around the room, and the 20 or so attendees look
closely at them during and between presentations on specific
science questions, and on outlines for further study and joint
writing of articles describing the results. Callisto doesn't look the
way we thought it would from Voyager data, and much of the time is
spent trying to come up with ideas on why it doesn't. After the
workshop, a dinner is held at the host's (Ronald Greeley) house.
Science decreases in talk at dinner, but doesn't go away.
February 18: Europa workshop. More people show up for this one as
Europa has attracted much attention for the possibility of an ocean
under its ice cover. We don' solve the problem, but try to outline how
best to use remaining orbits of Galileo to take the most diagnostic
February 19: With Galileo meetings over, and a Mars polar science
workshop in Houston several days off, I stop by friends at the
University of Colorado at Boulder. It is supposed to be vacation, but
we spend sometime every day talking about Mars: my hosts, Steve
Lee and Todd Clancy, are on the Mars Surveyor Orbiter '98 camera
team (as am I), and they also are active in Space Telescope
observations of Mars. Steve has long studied the changes in surface
contrasts on Mars caused by dust storms, and he has recent HST
pictures that show dust storms in unusual places (the north pole in
spring time). We also manage to see comet Hale-Bopp early the
morning of the 22nd.
February 23: Fly to Houston for the Mars Polar Science workshop at
the Lunar and Planetary Institute. This is a meeting to get the
planetary scientists studying Mars' polar regions together with
people who specialize in studying terrestrial glaciers, especially
Greenland and Antarctica. Mars' poles both have very distinctive
layered deposits, and seasonal deposition of carbon dioxide and
water frost (1/4th the whole atmosphere freezes out at the poles
each winter). While there is the strong suspicion that these record
cycles of climate driven by changes in Mars' orbit and rotation, we
have little information on what they are made of, let alone what
really controls their formation. The hope is the terrestrial record of
going in and out of ice ages in recent geologic time might help figure
out the Mars layers, or vice versa.
The workshop is very informal, and includes some specific
presentations of particular science investigations, but also a lot of
discussion of how best to have Mars Global Surveyor instruments,
and future missions, address some of the key questions: What are the
polar deposits made of? Are they accumulating now or are they
eroding? How does one try to detect layers at depth on Mars as can
be done in Antarctica by radar and seismology. What are the
resources available for refueling lander missions on Mars?
In getting ready for Mars Global Surveyor such meetings help focus
on some of the work to be done, and on the likelihood of changing our
whole investigation strategy after we see some of the data, which
will include higher resolution pictures than ever before, and types of
data never taken at Mars: laser measured topography and mineralogic
data from infrared thermal emissions.
One of the fun aspects of this meeting, and most related ones, is the
mix of people who have been doing science for decades with those
just starting out professionally, as well as the wide range of
specialties and points of view.
Feb 26: Attend first part of last day of meeting, then race to catch
plane home; flight home includes revising a manuscript on the
Martian satellites. Editing papers on airplanes is another typical
travel activity. Make it home ok, then check in at office for
accumulated work. Back to the usual schedule!
SUBSCRIBING & UNSUBSCRIBING: HOW TO DO IT!
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