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UPDATE # 26 - March 27, 1997

PART 1: Take the Challenge!
PART 2: NASA TV Rebroadcasts "Countdown!
PART 3: Join in Discovery Channel Chats
PART 4: Launching the Planet Explorer Toolkit
PART 5: Team Journal: Exciting, Exhausting, Frustrating and Fun: Somebody's Got to do it!
PART 6: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it!


Last week, in Challenge Question #1 you were asked:

If geology is the study of Earth (from the Greek geo-earth and logos-
knowledge), what should the study of Mars be called?

Areology, of course! "Ares" from the Greek meaning Mars. Remember,
Pathfinder will land in Ares Valles, the Valley of Ares!

A list of answers from all students who submitted them will be
posted on the Live From Mars Web site soon.

Mars has always been a place that has engaged our imagination, as
well as our scientific curiosity. In the 19th and 20th centuries two
men with almost the same last name created the exact same titles
in two different media. Who were these men and what did they write
and produce?

You are invited to send original student answers to us. We will list
the kids' names online and token prizes will be given to those with
the best answers. Send your answers to Jan Wee at:

Please include the words CHALLENGE QUESTION in the subject line of
your email.


April 10 and 23: Live From Mars Program I "Countdown!" Grade levels: 5-12, length of time: 57:30, rebroadcast of live performance "Countdown!" introduces a new series of "Passport to Knowledge" electronic field trips. Live From Mars Program I takes students behind closed doors at Cape Canaveral to see NASA's Pathfinder spacecraft close-up, just days before its successful early December '96 launch, and invites students and teachers to follow Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor online via the Internet and with hands-on discovery activities throughout the next two school years. Note: Effective March 15, 1997, the NASA TV satellite changed to: GE-2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 Mhz, and audio of 6.8 Mhz. 2-3 pm, 5-6 pm, 8-9 pm, 11 pm-12 am, 2-3 am: all times Eastern. NASA TV may preempt scheduled programming for live agency events.


Join Discovery Channel School and NASA's Quest Project for an exciting week of WebChats with NASA experts! Everyday uring the week of April 7-11, there will be a two-hour chat from 11 am-1 pm Pacific and 2-4 pm Eastern. Topics include: Monday - Today's Missions to Mars Tuesday - Planning Space Missions Wednesday - Looking for Life in Space Thursday - Exploring the Solar System Friday - Human Survival in Space Each day, two or three different scientists will share their experiences and knowledge about these topics. To join the chats go to: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/discovery The topics have been chosen to enhance the information presented in Discovery Channel School's Earth to Mars Theme programming. You are encouraged to view this material and then come and meet the people doing this exciting work! For more information please visit: http://school.discovery.com/spring97/themes/earthtomars/nasa/ Earth to Mars programming airs on Discovery Channel the week of March 31 - April 4: 9-10 am ET, 8-9 am CT, 10-11 am MT, 9-10 am PT. March 31: Understanding: The Universe April 1: Destination Mars April 2: He Conquered Space April 3: Discover Magazine: Solar System April 4: Life on Mars? On The Learning Channel, be sure to set your VCR to record "The Path to Mars" on TLC Elementary School. Airs April 1, 1997; 4-5 am ET, 3- 4 am CT, 2-3 am MT, 1-2 am PT. For curriculum support materials for these programs see: http://school.discovery.com/spring97/themes/earthtomars/


The design and critical review phases of the Planet Explorer Toolkit activity are now completed as students from grades 2-12 and their educators reached consensus on the universal best toolkit for planetary exploration. Guidance and first-hand "real science, real scientists" insights were shared by NASA JPL Mars Pathfinder Mission Planner, David Mittman, IMP (Imager for Mars Pathfinder) Designer, Peter Smith, and Planetary Scientist, Sanjay Limaye, during the discussion and consensus reaching period. March 24 through April 11 is the launch phase, the time when students investigate, collect data, and report findings that uniquely describe their selected Planetary Data Input (PDI) site. Please note that all classes, regardless of past participation, are invited to participate in the launch phase and be part of the data collection and follow-up activities! Consider joining this fun and easy data collection activity! A Web-based PDI form will enable students to input their data via the Live From Mars P.E.T Web pages. If you need a form contact Jan Wee at jwee@mail.arc.nasa.gov PDI data from participating classes will be accessible via the Web along with interpretive follow-up activities. Each participating class will have their own PDI data Web page with links to their four most revealing images enabling all to have close-up views of the PDI sites. Students have chosen to also include images of themselves, the Planetary Explorers, "on location" at their PDI site! A special enrichment activity, "Where in the World Are These Mystery Sites?" will add a bit of intrigue and mystery to the P.E.T. as students have the opportunity to identify mystery sites from the end of April through May. For more information about the Planet Explorer Toolkit activity, see the full overview at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars Select "Featured Events," where you will find the Planet Explorer Toolkit link.


Exciting, Exhausting, Frustrating and Fun: Somebody's Got to do it! by Bridget Landry [Editor's note: Bridget is a deputy uplink systems engineer on the Mars Pathfinder team. Her job is to teach the computers on the ground to speak the same language as those onboard Pathfinder. She takes complex, but general computer programs and makes them understand all the commands that the Pathfinder knows. Bridget works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.] March 6, 1997 Phew! What a week! We have been so busy we've hardly had time to breathe! Something of a shock, after some weeks of relative "down time." We've been gearing up for an Operational Readiness Test (ORT), which runs today through tomorrow. Think of it as a rehearsal; we have a computer that simulates the spacecraft, as well as a model of the lander and a duplicate rover. We put the last two in our "sandbox" (a room full of sand and rocks that we use to simulate the surface of Mars), then close the curtains so that no one can see in, and a few people go in and rearrange the rocks. Then the operations team has to take pictures with the lander camera, determine where the rocks are, and generally do all the tasks that we'll do the first two sols (Martian days) on Mars. This means that people will be here all through the night, in shifts. As the pictures come in, they will have to decide where to go and what to do, from the options prepared in advance. Most of my work, however, consisted of preparing imaging sequences to be used during the test. (These are sets of commands to take pictures of specific targets for specific purposes, or large sets of images that can then be put together to show all the area around the lander.) As you can imagine, there are a lot of files to be built, some that we know will be used, some that might be used and some that we hope never have to be used. But they all have to be ready and have to be tested, both to see that they run and to see that they take the images we intended. Much of the work is very nit-picky; every detail has to be just right. It's been exciting, exhausting, frustrating and fun, all at the same time. Lots of long hours, missed lunches, that sort of thing. (I did manage to get away for a science fiction convention this weekend, though!) But the idea that what we're building and testing right now will be used when we land on Mars in a few months is really exciting. I try to think of that when the fourth revision in the last hour for the same sequence comes in! There are very few jobs that are all glamour and no dirt; the good ones (like mine!) are those where the glamour/excitement/emotional rewards make up for the scut work.


If this is your first message from the updates-lfm list, welcome! To catch up on back issues, please visit the following Internet URL: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/updates To subscribe to the updates-lfm mailing list (where this message came from), send a message to: listmanager@quest.arc.nasa.gov In the message body, write these words: subscribe updates-lfm CONVERSELY... To remove your name from the updates-lfm mailing list, send a message to: listmanager@quest.arc.nasa.gov In the message body, write these words: unsubscribe updates-lfm If you have Web access, please visit our "continuous construction" site at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars


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